SANTA ROSA, Calif (Web Desk) – California’s governor declared a statewide emergency as hurricane-force wind fueled wildfires across Sonoma County and prompted mass evacuations in communities to the Pacific Ocean.
reported that Gov Gavin Newsom (D) pledged to deploy “every resource available” as authorities fought blazes on both ends of the state and weather increased the danger.
Despite the efforts of several thousand firefighters and volunteers, and millions of people enduring forced blackouts to minimize the risk of new blazes of wildfires, only 5 percent of the ferocious Kincade Fire north of the San Francisco Bay area had been contained as of Sunday evening.
The mandatory evacuations affected nearly 180,000 people. About 54,000 acres already have been torched, 94 structures destroyed and State Route 128 turned into a hellish gantlet. And 80,000 structures remain under threat.
“This is the largest evacuation that any of us at the Sheriff’s Office
can remember,” the Sonoma Sheriff’s Department tweeted in both English and Spanish. “Take care of each other.”
Throughout the day, with gusts up to 93 mph sweeping through the hills and valleys, state and local officials expanded the number of areas under mandatory evacuation orders. Some in Santa Rosa were told to leave. Evacuation warnings were later issued to communities in neighboring Napa County.
“Apocalyptic,” said Carol Pajala, 67, who fled her home in Santa Rosa with her husband, David, and their golden retriever after the predawn alert came through. The couple found shelter at a fairground in Petaluma, a city about 17 miles south, where authorities had established a space for displaced residents.
Strong winds kicked up leaves and knocked down branches. Roads were congested as residents packed up their cars and RVs to head out of the county. Traffic lights at some intersections lost power, further slowing evacuation efforts, yet overall the process went smoothly, officials said. Sonoma County shelters were filled with about 4,600 people.
Fire encroaching the highway on 128, both sides, in Sonoma Co. in Healdsburg. Major wind gusts kicking up and and trees and power lines down everywhere.