Californians under siege try to fight fires, find loved ones

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) - Authorities have confirmed three more deaths from the wildfires in Northern California, bringing the total to 35.

The raging fires have destroyed at least 5,700 homes and businesses.

California Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said Friday that the numbers make this the deadliest and most destructive series of wildfires in California history.

The Napa County Sheriff-Coroner says a forensic team found two more dead at a home there. They say one of the men killed was 89-year-old George Chaney, a retired doctor. The second man is believed to be 79-year-old Edward Stone.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office also confirmed another death, but provided no details.


Northern California communities have been battered from wildfires that are nowhere near over.

They're trying to save or recover what's left of their homes, find lost loved ones or mourn their dead, with the constant threat of the fires still looming.

The death toll climbed to 31 on Thursday, making it the deadliest week of wildfires in California history.

Hundreds more are injured or missing.

In areas where they were able, cadaver dogs were sniffing through the ashes.

A total of 21 fires spanning at least 300 square miles (777 square kilometers) are burning, most of them less than 10 percent contained.

Evacuees fled to friends' houses, shelters and even beaches.


After fast-moving wildfires left at least 23 bodies in their wake, California fire officials say they will assess the effectiveness of emergency alert systems.

Communities in the wildfire-prone state use an array of electronic systems to send out alerts to residents when they need to evacuate, including text messages and emails.

But it might not be possible to reach everyone in danger, with so little time to react.

State fire agency Chief Ken Pimlott said Wednesday that many people were in bed when the fires hit communities Sunday night and there was "little time to notify anybody by any means."

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department said thousands of texts were sent warning residents to flee.

But some evacuees said they were never warned of the danger.


A California fire official says at least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed by wildfires burning in Northern California wine country.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant says fire activity increased significantly overnight, destroying more buildings and leading to new mandatory evacuations in several areas.

Berlant said Wednesday that 22 wildfires are burning in Northern California, up from 17 on Tuesday.

Officials in Napa County say almost half of the population of Calistoga, a town of 5,000 people, has been ordered to evacuate. New evacuation orders are also in place for Green Valley in Solano County.

After a day of cooler weather and calmer winds, officials say low moisture and dangerous gusty winds will return to the region Wednesday afternoon, complicating firefighters' efforts.

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A fire official says two more people have died in Sonoma County, raising the total number of people killed in wildfires in Northern California to 15.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Chief Ken Pimlott said Tuesday at least 2,000 homes, businesses and other structures have been destroyed.

He says it would be up to local authorities to release the names of the victims once their families have been notified.

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A relentless onslaught of wildfires in Northern California is ravaging wineries, rural towns, and whole neighborhoods.

Authorities say at least 10 are dead, at least 100 are injured and at least 1,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed. All three figures were expected to surge in the coming days as more information is reported.

The city of Santa Rosa and its 175,000 residents felt much of the damage, with strip malls, business parks, hotels and subdivisions swallowed up by the fire.

Smaller towns and vineyards in wine country were also hard hit, their residents forced to flee.

Taken as a group, the fires are already among the deadliest in California history.


California's fire chief says at least 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed in wildfires that have ripped through the state's wine country.

He says numerous people have been injured and a number of residents are also missing as 14 large fires burn.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott say an estimated 20,000 people have been evacuated.

He called the estimates of destroyed structures very conservative. Pimlott says the fires are burning throughout an eight-county swath of Northern California, including Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

Pimlott said most of the fires started at about 10 p.m. Sunday and their causes are under investigation. He said firefighters are concentrating on saving lives rather than battling the blazes.

He didn't have an estimate on the number of people hurt and missing.