Raging wine country wildfires burn homes; force evacuations

Raging wine country wildfires burn homes; force evacuations

The blazes engulfed acreage in Sonoma and Napa counties as responders worked through the night to fight the fires.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency over the wildfires devastating Northern California's beloved wine country as photos and videos from the region on social media offer a grim picture of what residents are facing.

According to CalFire, a 200-acre fire near Atlas Peak in the hills above Napa led to the evacuation of hundreds of homes.

Numerous people have been hurt and some are missing, although no estimates were immediately available, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection director Ken Pimlott.

Sonoma County resident John Dean was driving home early Monday when "I looked over and saw a house on fire" along the road. The fires forced the closure of all public schools in Santa Rosa and Calistoga on Monday.

An evacuation center is being set up at a downtown community center.

A smaller fire, the Nuns Fire, that seems to have broken out simultaneous with or shortly after that fire, along Highway 12 in Glen Ellen, quickly consumed 300 acres and has already damaged or destroyed multiple farms, businesses, vineyards, and homes in the area.

"Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly", the warning said.

A smoke advisory has been issued for San Francisco, telling residents to "close windows and limit outdoor activities". There were 30 to 40 miles per hour winds.

"There are fires burning in a handful of areas, but Napa is the primary focus because it started there first", Jourdan said.

Evacuations were also ordered on Partrick Road west of Napa, Soda Canyon Road, and Monticello Road up to the Circle Oaks subdivision, according to Molly Rattigan, deputy county executive officer. "I mean blazing, falling down on fire".

Elderly people, children and those with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to the smoky conditions and should take extra precautions, air district officials said.

The local Napa Valley Register reported that complete strangers are helping each other - including one family, who were enjoying their Wine Country tour one moment, and fleeing for their lives the next, picking up another tourist along the way. A Calistoga shelter was opened at the Napa County Fairgrounds, 1435 N. Oak St.

Smoke from the conflagrations could be sensed as far as San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.