Thousands flee and more evacuated as wildfires DESTROY California — California fires MAP

Homeowner Phil Rush is confronted by the remains of his home that was destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa Calif. He says he and his wife and dog escaped with only their medication and a bag of dog food when flames overtook their neighborhood

Firefighters facing a resurgence of high winds on Wednesday struggled to halt wildfires that have killed at least 23 people, destroyed 3,500 structures and left hundreds missing in chaotic evacuations across northern California's wine country.

The blaze erupted along the 91 Freeway next to an off-ramp and spread quickly in gusty winds to char more than 202 hectares, Orange County Fire Authority spokesman Captain Larry Kurtz said. In one 90-minute period, fire crews responded to more than 10 different locations resulting from the rash of 911 calls and other reports about electrical equipment fires.

Latest maps from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) show more than two dozen wildfires burning uncontrolled across the state.

The Mark West, Coffey Park, Glen Ellen and Kenwood areas have been the most challenging fire zones in the sheriff's office's unincorporated county jurisdictions, Giordano said.

"We're not focused a whole lot on actual containment", he said. "It is very dynamic". "There were times at night when my street was like a freeway", Hammar said.

Helicopters and air tankers were being used to hold back the shifting fire line that threatened to move on communities without warning.

October 11-As firefighters begin their third day battling multiple wildfires in California's Wine Country with a focus on saving lives and preserving property, heavy winds are expected to return Wednesday afternoon and create a "very high fire danger". Some 170,000 acres were burning.

Pacific Gas and Electric said it reported those events to the state utility regulator and Cal Fire. The fire chief told reporters that when the stories are told of what happened, he expects to hear of people asleep in their homes as the flames raced down in ambush. "The devastation is enormous", he said. Many people were asleep when the fire started.

Member station KQED in San Francisco reports that Cal Fire is investigating whether fallen power lines and exploding electrical transformers from an extreme wind event Sunday that saw gusts of 75 miles per hour in Sonoma might have touched off some of the fires.

So far, the fires have been thriving on low humidity and dry conditions.

The evacuated towns include Calistoga in Napa County, where all 5,000 were told to leave and police stopped all traffic trying to approach the area.

As for the cause of the fires, which were speculated to be connected to downed PG&E power lines, Pimlott said it was too early to speculate.

At least 20,000 people remained under evacuation as the fires raged largely unchecked for a third day, belching palls of smoke that engulfed the region and drifted south over the San Francisco Bay area, where some residents donned face masks.

"One woman learned that her home was still standing, but her farm was gone", said de Grassi, a spokeswoman for the Mendocino County Tourism Commission.

Noting that fire officials made similar pronouncements when the Butte fire ravaged rural Northern California counties in the fall of 2015, Pimlott added, "I think we've raised the bar".

"She's spunky, she's sweet, she loves bingo and she loves the beach, she loves her family", said Jessica Tunis, crying. "Please help me find her".

"I want to go up and see what's there", he said, "and I don't want to go, you know?"

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

"We have had big fires in the past".

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