'Right Now We Need to Grieve' in Sonoma County

At least 10 dead as fires rage in wine country
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2017 5:29 AM CDT
Updated Oct 10, 2017 5:41 AM CDT
'Right Now We Need to Grieve' in Sonoma County
A Cazadero firefighter struggles to protect a home from catching fire in Coffey Park, Monday Oct. 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, Calif.   (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

"We are a resilient county; we will come back from this," Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane said Monday after devastating wildfires swept through the region. "But right now we need to grieve." Seven people died in her county, making the total at least 10 across northern California, the Los Angeles Times reports. Officials say that in one of the most destructive fire outbreaks in state history, at least 15 fires have scorched more than 90,000 acres in eight counties. More than 20,000 people have fled their homes. At least 100 have been injured and 1,500 structures destroyed. The latest:

  • Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma, and Yuba counties and asked President Trump to declare a major disaster, the New York Times reports. "The heat, the lack of humidity, and the winds are all driving a very dangerous situation and making it worse," he said.

  • As firefighters continued to battle the blazes overnight, a spokesman for Brown's Office of Emergency Services said favorable weather conditions were helping, though the death toll could still rise. "Firefighters and emergency management workers were taking advantage of the winds dying down ...and a lot of work is going to be done overnight and early (Tuesday) morning," Brad Alexander said, per Reuters.
  • The region's famous wineries were hit hard: The Signorello Estate winery in Napa Valley and the Paradise Ridge Winery in Sonoma County were destroyed and many other suffered damage just when workers were almost finished harvesting this year's grapes, the AP reports. Wineries that escaped damage still had to deal with the loss of power.
  • Cal Fire captain Amy Head says it is unprecedented for so many fires to start around the same time of night, the Guardian reports. She believes climate change is responsible. "It has been hotter, it has been drier, our fire seasons have been longer, fires are burning more intensely, which is a direct correlation to the climate changing," she says.
  • Celebrity athletes including Barry Bonds were at Ronnie Lott's celebrity fundraiser at Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa when the rapidly approaching fire led to a scramble to evacuate, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "I was out on the balcony at Mayacama when the power went out and sat down, and saw the moon come up. It was very nice," former Kansas City pitcher Bret Saberhagen says. "And then I saw the moon turn orange and it started getting lighter and lighter. I saw the fire coming over the ridge and I could hear propane and gas tanks popping."
(More California wildfires stories.)

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