Hundreds of people remain missing as at least 22 fires rampage across the state’s famous Wine country.
8,000 firefighters are now battling the flames.
The wildfires destroy more than 3,500 buildings and homes over 170,000 acres (68,800 hectares) and displaced about 25,000 people.
Seventeen people are now confirmed killed in Sonoma County, with another eight in Mendocino County, four in Yuba County and two in Napa County, officials said.
The updated casualty figures mean the wildfires are the deadliest in California since 1933, when 29 people died in fires at Griffith Park in Los Angeles.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) announce Thursday that the fires claim 31 lives. While Sheriff Rob Giordano of hard-hit Sonoma County tell his department receive around 1,100 reports of missing persons.
Of those, “745 of them, roughly, have been located safe,” while “we still have 400 outstanding,” Giordano said, noting that the actual figure may be smaller because there are sometimes duplicate reports.
He said targeted body recovery efforts begin in cases where all other leads exhaust.
“We are moving into a recovery phase,” he tell . “We have cadaver dogs up here that can basically scent bodies and help us find people.”
Giordano warned that it was “going to be a slow process” as fires continue to burn, and that identifying victims would be difficult.
“Some of these remains are actually intact bodies — much easier to identify, much easier to get things from. Some of them are merely ashes and bones. And we may never get truly confirmation identification on ashes”.
In cases in which bodies badly burn. Authorities use dental records and serial numbers on medical devices to identify the dead.
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Asked if he expected the death toll to rise, Giordano replied: “I’d be unrealistic if I didn’t.”
The sheriff said that of the 17 people confirmed dead in Wine country, 10 have now been identified.
However the youngest person on this list is 57 years old. The bulk of them are in their 70s and 80s.
As recovery teams leave for searching fire victims. Suddenly evacuation orders issue for towns in wine-producing Napa and Sonoma counties. Where hundreds of people already lost their homes to the fast-moving infernos.
Residents of Calistoga, a resort town of some 5,000 people in Napa. And Geyserville, a town of around 800 people in Sonoma, inform to leave and seek shelter elsewhere.
Entire neighborhoods in Santa Rosa reduce to ashes. And evacuation orders issue for additional parts of the city of 175,000 people in Sonoma County.
Cal Fire meanwhile said that strong winds could spark new fires.
“These winds will continue to challenge firefighters in their efforts towards containment and will increase the risk for new fires,” Cal Fire said.
The National Weather Service updates that wind gusts of up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour forecast in some areas. May be the “critical fire weather conditions” would continue into the weekend.
Hundreds of fire engines and dozens of firefighting crews busy to stop fire in from other states.
A state emergency management official said the authorities were looking into bringing in firefighters from as far away as Australia.
Veteran firefighter statement regarding fire
Veteran firefighter with Cal Fire, inform the wildfires were like nothing he’s see before.
“I am with Cal Fire for 30 years and I see fires many times some items too much big fires,” he tell AFP. “But this is extraordinary, having that many and that large and going so fast.”
According to officials, Thousands of people left homeless and 25,000 people evacuate their homes in Wine country.
Though nearly 3,500 homes and businesses destroy. It including several wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties, the heart of the state’s extensive wine production.