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Death toll rises in devastating California wildfires

by Leigh Jones & Mickey McLean
Posted 10/10/17, 04:11 pm

UPDATE: Authorities now say that wildfires in California’s wine country have killed at least 15 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses. Among the dead are Charles Rippey, 100, and his wife Sara, 98, who died in their burning home in Napa. Hundreds of additional firefighters have joined the battle against the uncontained blazes in Napa and Sonoma counties. Cooler weather and lighter winds should help crews fight the 17 separate fires, which are among the deadliest in California history.

OUR EARLIER REPORT (10:29 p.m.): Californians in Sonoma County are waking up to an apocalyptic scene after wildfires raced through the region Monday, leaving at least 10 people dead and 100 injured. Officials warn those figures likely will rise as fire crews and police canvass the devastation. It already stands as one of the deadliest wildfires in the state’s history. Officials in Sonoma County have logged more than 100 missing persons reports filed by family and friends trying to locate loved ones who lived in the area. The fast-moving conflagration, which blew up late Sunday, swallowed at least 1,500 homes and businesses. More than 14 separate fires raged across the 200-mile region known for its wineries. The flames hit the city of Santa Rosa hardest, and officials there ordered many of its 175,000 residents to leave. Most people had little warning or time to pack belongings before fleeing for their lives. California’s wildfire season peaks in October, but Sunday’s blazes confounded fire crews because they seemed to take off at about the same time without any obvious connection between them.

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Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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Mickey McLean

Mickey is executive editor of WORLD Digital. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and a dog/administrative assistant named Daisy.

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