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Reports: At least 17 dead as destructive wildfires strand thousands in California 

By Courtney Barrow, AccuWeather staff writer
By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
October 11, 2017, 1:52:54 PM EDT

As of 10:52 a.m. CDT Wednesday, this story is no longer being updated.

Destructive wildfires continue to rage in California's wine country as strong winds threaten to enhance the blazes.

At least 17 people have been killed and over 100 people have been injured, according to the Associated Press. At least 2,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed.

Mandatory evacuations were issued late Sunday after fires broke out across four counties. Officials estimate over 20,000 people were evacuated as the fires have scorched over 115,000 acres.

The wildfires were not limited to just Northern California.

Smoke filled the sky in parts of Southern California on Monday as a wildfire ignited just east of Anaheim, quickly spreading and destroying multiple homes.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency due to the wildfires on Monday.

"In Northern California, winds will shift around to more of a northerly to northwesterly direction but can still be locally gusty," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark.

The change in wind direction from northeast on Monday to west or northwest much of the balance of this week may still cause some problems for firefighting efforts, AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey stated.

"The recently hot conditions are expected to move out of the San Francisco Bay Area later this week, while Southern California remains seasonably warm and dry," she said.

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A deputy with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office shot a quick video of the conditions the deputies and fire personnel were facing at the onset of the fire.

Sheriff Rob Giordano said that this will be one of the worst disasters in California history.

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG), a community of wine industry leaders, issued a statement on Tuesday in response to the devastating wildfires.

"On the night of October 8, the NVG began receiving reports of fires spreading throughout the county, stoked by high winds, ample dry fuel loads, and low humidity. Growers have halted harvest activities at this time and are focusing efforts on safety and providing support to the greater Napa community."

The NVG said it will be working with county and state officials to assess the damage sustained on vineyard properties.

The 2017 harvest had begun the first week of August and was expected to conclude this week.

In neighboring Sonoma County, at least 90 percent of the harvest has been completed, winegrowers report.

As of 4 a.m. PDT Wednesday, Cal Fire has issued mandatory evacuations for parts of the town of Calistoga.

Residents north of Grant Street have been told to leave, while remaining areas of Calistoga are under an advisory alert and can await further notice or begin voluntary evacuations.

The highest wind gusts reported in California through Tuesday night were 25 mph in Crescent City and 22 mph at Travis Air Force Base. Low visibility is being reported around the state due to thick smoke; Santa Rosa's visbility is at 6 miles, and Oroville's is down to 2.5 miles.

At least 17 people have died in the wildfires, as of 10 p.m. PDT Tuesday. No further information has been provided at this time.

Pacific Gas and Electric reports that 50,000 customers in Sonoma County are without electricity, and 28,000 are without gas power in Santa Rosa, Kenwood, Yountville, Napa and Windsor.

Firefighters have been diligently fighting back Canyon Fire 2 in Southern California. According to Anaheim Fire and Rescue, the fire is at 40 percent containment and has reached 8,000 acres.

President Donald Trump has approved the major disaster declaration in California due to the destructive wildfires burning across the state. This allows the state to receive federal funding to help with recovery efforts.

The smoke from wildfires burning across Northern California is leading to poor air quality across the region, including around San Francisco.

Air quality is at a ‘very unhealthy’ level for parts of the region, according to the National Weather Service. People in areas being impacted by wildfire smoke should remain indoors when possible, especially children, older adults and those with respiratory issues.

Anyone outdoors in the areas impacted by smoke may experience burning eyes, a runny nose, coughing and difficulty breathing in areas with thick smoke.

Two more fatalities have been confirmed from wildfires burning across California, bringing the death toll up to 15. Additionally, at least 2,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed with many more still in danger of the fires.

President Donald Trump has commented on the situation, saying 'we will be there' for California as the state deals with the wildfires.

APTOPIX California Wildfires

Kristine Pond reacts as she searches the remains of her family's home destroyed by fires in Santa Rosa, Calif., Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

To see general locations of major fires burning in California, view Cal Fire's Statewide Fire Map.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 1.00.41 PM.png

Image via

Mendocino County sheriff confirms two more deaths in the area. Brings total dead in California wildfires to 13.

According to a coroner, an elderly couple died in Napa.

High winds are hindering firefighting efforts.

Wildfire destruction in the Santa Rosa neighborhood of Coffey Park is seen in the below before and after image. The full view of the before and after scene can be revealed by moving the slider to the left or right.

Photo: Google Maps, California Highway Patrol

The Canyon Fire 2 has grown to 7,500 acres and all mandatory evacuations remain in place, Anaheim Fire & Rescue officials said shortly before 7 a.m. PDT.

In a Tuesday morning update, Cal Fire officials said overnight winds fanned over a dozen blazes in Northern California.

"Firefighters have been challenged with winds gusting in excess of 50 mph causing extreme rates of spread and volatile burning conditions," Cal Fire said.

Strong winds are expected to diminish later today.

Smoke from the fires was captured by NASA satellite imagery on Monday.

In Southern California, the Canyon Fire 2 has burned 6,000 acres and destroyed 24 structures, according to the Anaheim Fire & Rescue. A more detailed damage assessment is expected to be completed later Tuesday morning.

More structures have been confirmed as burned in Napa and Sonoma counties Tuesday morning. The high-end Fountaingrove Inn in Santa Rosa suffered significant damage, as did the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country and buildings at the Paradise Ridge Winery.

Local businesses like Sweet T’s, Willi’s Wine Bar and Cricklewood restaurant all burnt to the ground, as did some national chains, like McDonald's, Arby's and Applebee's.

At least 11 have died due to the wildfires in California, according to the Press Democrat. Seven people have died in the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, two more have passed away in Mendocino County, and two others died in Napa County.

Officials say it's still "too early" to understand the extent of the damage of the areas ravaged by wildfires, and that information is still scarce at this time.

As of 12: 00 a.m. PDT, a new wildfire has reportedly sparked and moved into the Wild Oak, California community. Santa Rosa Police Department are calling for all residents of Wild Oak and nearby areas to evacuate immediately.

Officials say more than 100 people have been reported missing in the wildfires. While it's possible many not be able to be reached due to a lack of cell service, a hotline has been set up specifically for reporting missing persons.

Over 5,000 homes were evacuated in Southern California on Monday as smoke hung over Orange County. Multiple structures were destroyed as no amount of containment has yet been reported.

Area hospitals have treated over 100 people for injuries. Santa Rosa Memorial and Queen of the Valley Medical Center have treated most patients for smoke inhalation. Two people are in critical condition, with one sustaining significant burns.

More injuries are expected as officials continue to search wildfire-ridden areas.

The Santa Rosa area is largely under a mandatory evacuation. The Santa Rosa Police Department has issued a curfew for all mandatory evacuation zones between 6:45 p.m. and 7:15 a.m. PDT.

Multiple schools sustained significant damage due to the raging wildfires. Hidden Valley Satellite and Redwood Adventist Academy were destroyed as fires raged over Napa and Sonoma counties. According to the Press Democrat, Cardinal Newman High School also lost about half its classrooms, the library and the main office.

At least 30 wineries announced there were closing on Monday as wildfires raged through Napa and Sonoma counties.

AP fire damage

Flames rise from the remains of a house that burned down in Santa Rosa, Calif., Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. Wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through Northern California, sending residents on a headlong flight to safety through smoke and flames as homes burned. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The Napa Valley Vintners Association told the AP that there wasn't a confirmed number of winery buildings damaged in the fire, but at least two wineries so far have been destroyed.

Nothing is yet confirmed on what the fire will mean for the 2017 harvest; however, most grapes had been picked prior to Monday.

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