SACRAMENTO (CBS13/AP) – As strong winds returned to California wine country on Wednesday, wildfires exploded in size and number, prompting authorities to issue new evacuation orders.
The death toll from the fires grew to 21, and it’s expected to climb.
Here’s a breakdown by county of where the fatalities happened:
- 11 in Sonoma County
- 6 in Mendocino County
- 2 in Napa County
- 2 in Yuba County
So far, the wildfires burning statewide have ranked as the third deadliest and most destructive in state history. And officials warned the worst was far from over.
“Make no mistake, this is a serious, critical, catastrophic event,” said Ken Pimlott, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The fires have burned through a staggering 265 square miles (686 square kilometers) of urban and rural areas.
Here are the latest numbers that CBS News has obtained from Gov. Brown’s office:
- 170,000+ acres scorched — or the equivalent of at least 200 Central Parks or nearly 12 Manhattan islands
- 3rd deadliest fire season in California’s history
- 21 confirmed deaths so far
- 3,500 homes and businesses destroyed since Sunday
- 22 fires burning, up from 17 on Tuesday, in 8 counties
High winds and low humidity made conditions ideal for fire to start virtually anywhere on ground that was parched from years of drought.
Resources to fight wildfires:
- 73 helicopters
- 30 air tankers
- 550 fire engines
- 8,000 firefighters
- 170 fire engines on the way from neighboring states
Fires were “burning faster than firefighters can run, in some situations,” Emergency Operations Director Mark Ghilarducci said.
In Southern California, cooler weather and moist ocean air helped firefighters gain ground against a wildfire that has scorched more than a dozen square miles.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)