More than a dozen wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through California wine country Monday, destroying at least 1,500 homes and businesses and sending an estimated 20,000 people on a headlong flight to safety through smoke and flames.
One person was killed in a fire further north, in Mendocino County.
The state’s fire chief called the damage estimates for the fire in the wine country conservative and said the fires were burning throughout an eight-county swath of Northern California, including Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.
Numerous people had been hurt and some were missing, although no estimates were immediately available, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott. Later he said there were likely fatalities.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered after the blazes broke out late Sunday. Long lines formed at gas stations when many families heeded a middle-of-the-night call to get out. A representative of Pacific Gas & Electric said 114,000 customers were without power.