Critical fire weather conditions, Santa Ana winds plague CA through weekend

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Smoke from various wildfires is seen in Sonoma Valley along Highway 12 during the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma

Death toll in the wildfire that swept through northern California, has risen to 21 as hundreds of firefighters are still battling the flames in multiple areas of the region.

He said that autumn - when summer heat has dried out brush - is the most unsafe time of the year for wildfires in the state, adding that California was still feeling the effects of five years of drought. There were originally 600 reports of missing people, but officials said that 315 were located safely.

Just as firefighters seem to be getting the upper hand on that monster home-destroying blaze in Orange County, weather forecasters had some bad news Wednesday: Hot, dry Santa Ana winds are coming and that means increasing fire danger. All that remained of some neighborhoods are a few blackened chimneys, charred trees and abandoned cars.

The Sonoma County town of Santa Rosa, the largest city in the wine country region, was particularly hard hit by the Tubbs fire.

The 77-year-old owner said he did not lose a single animal, but his home was destroyed.

"I want to go up and see what's there", he said, "and I don't want to go, you know?" "I've woken up the last two mornings, thinking it was maybe a dream but then I realized I have nothing".

As he surveyed the damage, he marveled how some of his neighbors' homes survived.

"The Tubbs Fire has made slow progress to this point but significant winds are still forecasted", the city said in an online alert.

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On Wednesday, O'Brien and his crew were stomping out flare-ups, hoping to keep the fire from creating more damage.

"We're on drawdown in the county", he said. As we've learned since, whether the causes related to downed or sparking power lines or there were other factors involved, the little known and somewhat uncommon Diablo winds are clearly to blame for how big and how fast these fires became. "People evacuating were flying down my street".

Describing the fight against a multidimensional event, Cox laid out firefighters' priorities: "To protect people's lives and get them out of harm's way, to protect the structures and also to build containment lines where we do have the opportunities of engagement".

Larson's classic auto collection was a smoldering heap of metal.

Another Atlas Peak Road resident, Richard Clark, said Tuesday he still hadn't seen the fire's destruction and has no idea what will be left of his home.

"Make no mistake: This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event", Pimlott said. They say anything from a auto backfire to a thoughtlessly tossed cigarette can bring on an inferno.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved a major disaster declaration, clearing the way for federal help with the disaster, saying that "the federal government will stand with the people of California".

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