11 killed as wildfires rage in California

San Francisco, Oct 10 (IANS) At least 11 people were killed as wildfires raged across eight counties in Northern California on Tuesday, engulfing its renowned wine producing regions and sending vast plumes of smoke as far as San Francisco, officials said.

At least 100 people were injured as the massive wildfires swept through Monday night, forcing up to 20,000 to evacuate and destroying over 1,500 buildings, ABC News reported. The fires scorched nearly 100,000 acres of land.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the counties affected by the blaze that started on Sunday night.

“This is really serious. It’s moving fast. The heat, the lack of humidity and the winds are all driving a very dangerous situation and making it worse,” Brown told the media. “It’s not under control by any means. But we’re on it in the best way we know how.”

Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano told reporters that seven people had been killed, adding “the number is going to change.” County officials said they had received more than 100 calls reporting missing persons.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection confirmed two deaths in Napa County and another in Mendocino County.

According to the NBC network, another fire-related death was confirmed in Yuba County.

More than 100 people were being treated at Napa and Sonoma hospitals for fire-related injuries including burns, smoke inhalation and shortness of breath, CNN reported.

The devastation was significant in Santa Rosa, a city of about 175,000 where the fire levelled subdivisions and reduced cars and homes into burnt piles of ash and rubble. The fire gutted a Hilton hotel and flattened a trailer park community.

More than 103,000 people were without gas and electricity, authorities said. A half-dozen school districts cancelled classes on Monday.

Napa County was dealing with the biggest blazes, with the Tubbs fire at 27,000 acres, the Atlas fire at 25,000 acres and the Partrick fire at 5,000 acres.

In Sonoma County, firefighters also battled the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa, the Nuns fire at 5,000 acres and another fire that spread 1,500 acres.

In Mendocino County, the Redwood Complex fire had burned at least 19,000 acres, as of Monday night. Large wildfires often are named for local geographic areas or features.

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