Authorities in Northern California announced late Monday that there were at least 11 dead and more than 100 reported missing in wildfires raging through much of the state’s wine country.
Scott Alonso, communications director for Sonoma County, said family members have been reporting those missing in calls to a designated hotline in the county. He said it is possible that many or most of the missing are safe but simply can’t be reached because of the widespread loss of cell service and other communications.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the fire has consumed another 2,000 acres since Monday afternoon and is now at 27,000 acres. 1,500 homes have been destroyed.
Andy Luttringer, who lives in Santa Rosa, looked at the damage to his home of nearly 20 years. He told the paper that he regretted not grabbing more of his wife’s artwork. His wife died of cancer a few years ago.
“I’m really mad at myself,” the 62-year-old retired cop told the paper. “I could have grabbed a couple of her pieces. The rest of the stuff I couldn’t care less about.”
At least 100 people have been injured in the wildfires.
St. Joseph Health said 100 patients have been treated, most for smoke inhalation, at two of its hospitals, Santa Rosa Memorial in Santa Rosa and Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa.
Two of the injured are critical. One has been transferred to a burn center with significant injuries. Fifteen of the injuries are reported as moderate and the rest are minor.
Chris Thomas, 42, from Kirkland, Wash., who was visiting Napa with his wife, Marissa, for a wine-tasting trip, told The Chronicle that he was awakened by a fire truck’s loudspeaker ordering them to leave.
“It was surreal,” Thomas said. “When I started loading stuff into the car, it was a hell-storm of smoke and ash. There were 30- to 40-mph winds. I couldn’t even breathe, so I ran back to the unit to get Marissa. It was so smoky I went to the wrong unit. When I found her I said, ‘Forget it, let’s just go.’ It went from being an annoying evacuation to something really scary.”
Vice President Mike Pence commented on the current situation during a visit to California. He said that the federal government stands ready to provide any and all assistance to the state: “We are standing with you.”