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Death toll rises to 21 in California wildfires

by Kiley Crossland
Posted 10/11/17, 03:18 pm

UPDATE: At least 21 people have died in California’s wine country wildfires, authorities announced Wednesday. The fires, some of the most destructive in the state’s history, are a “serious, critical, catastrophic event,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Chief Ken Pimlott said while announcing the latest number of deaths, noting that 8,000 firefighters are working to battle the flames. Police deputies found one body at a burned-out home on Wednesday in the Loma Rica area after a resident asked for a welfare check on a family friend who was missing. More than 670 people are still listed as missing, according to Sonoma County officials.

OUR EARLIER REPORT (11:55 a.m.): Despite a day of cooler weather and lighter winds, the wildfires in California’s wine country continue to expand. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday ordered more mandatory evacuations, and officials expect gusty winds Wednesday afternoon will complicate firefighting efforts. The Sonoma Valley blaze, one of a series of fires that flared up north of San Francisco on Sunday, has grown to 44 square miles. The fires have killed at least 17 people, including 11 in Sonoma County, and injured at least 180 more. Authorities said more than 200 people are reported missing in Sonoma County alone, and wildfires have destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses. “This is just pure devastation,” said Ken Pimlott, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, noting the state still has “several days of fire weather conditions to come.”

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Kiley Crossland

Kiley is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on marriage, family, and sexuality.

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