Science | October 10, 2017 11:29 am

At Least 11 Dead in California Wine Country as Wildfires Continue to Burn

One of the most-damaging blazes in modern Californian history, the fires have burned at least 1,500 structures.

wildfires
An inmate firefighter monitors flames as a house burns in the Napa wine region in California on October 9, 2017, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region. / AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

Fires in California’s wine country have killed at least 11 people, injured dozens of others, and destroyed more than 1,500 homes and businesses, including prominent wineries.

According to San Francisco Chroniclethe fires in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties are supercharged by powerful winds. They started in the middle of the night and raced through neighborhoods, jumping freeways. The wind gusts were up to 70 mph and pushed walls of flames nearly 100 feet high.

Most people who fled barely had time to grab car keys or their pets. And unfortunately, some did not make it out at all. Sonoma County sheriff’s officials said seven people died in their county, while two people died in Napa, and at least one person was killed in Mendocino County and another in Yuba County, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. More than 100 people were treated at hospitals for burns and smoke inhalations, among other injuries, in Napa and Sonoma. The California Highway Patrol said it used helicopters to rescue 42 people, including vineyard works

This is one of the most damaging series of blazes in modern California history. Sonoma County officials have received more than 100 reports of missing people as of Monday evening, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Californian Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties. The flames have covered 103,000 acres and covered most of the Bay Area in smoke.

Officials are still looking for the cause of the fires. Residents describe fleeing their houses in the middle of the night, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The fires hit during a record-setting year of heat and persistent drought.