At least 10 people are dead and thousands of homes and businesses have been destroyed after several wildfires continue to ravage California’s wine country, reports say.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in several counties as the fires, which began on Sunday, swept through Northern California and urged Donald Trump to declare an official state of disaster to support local relief efforts.
“In less than 24 hours, more than 18 fires began burning in at least seven counties and have collectively burned more than 80,000 acres,” Brown wrote in a statement.
The flames broke out nearly all at once as residents fled the high-end region. The fires worsened overnight.
“I can’t shake hearing people scream in terror as the flames barreled down on us,” Noah Lowry, a former San Francisco Giants pitcher, told the Associated Press. Lowry said he fled his home with his wife, two daughters and 2-week-old son.
The fires continued well into Tuesday and Brown said that the flames grew so rapidly that residents had little time to leave their homes and flee to temporary shelters. He added that officials expect the number of deaths as a result of the fire to grow.
“Thousands have been made homeless. Many schools remain closed. Major roads were damaged or destroyed. The fire destroyed utility poles causing the loss of power to over 38,000 residents,” he wrote in the statement to Trump. “These fires have destroyed and continue to threaten critical infrastructure, including 80 communication towers, impacting essential services for thousands of people.”
Kim Hoe told the AP that he and his colleagues were staying at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country when flames began to overtake the building.
“We just had to run and run,” he said. “It was full of smoke. We could barely breathe.”
Most of the damage was in Santa Rosa where the fires destroyed homes, melted the glass off of cars and turned wheels into liquid, according to the AP.
Photos of the devastation showed homes engulfed in flames and relief teams working to quell the fires. Pictures shared on Instagram showed flames on the horizon behind Disney California Adventure Park.