Drivers forced to abandon cars to avoid flames
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters battled about 10 expanding wind-whipped fires across northern California’s wine country early Monday morning as the flames destroyed homes, a historic barn and forced drivers to abandon their cars in the streets as they rushed to avoid the flames.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered after blazes broke out late Sunday across four counties as strong winds buffeted the area, the Press Democrat reported Monday (http://bit.ly/2xt7ekR ).
Authorities have implemented forced evacuations in several rural neighborhoods, and worked to clear out hospitals and senior centers in northwestern Santa Rosa.
Deputies were dispatched to help firefighters and California Highway Patrol officers with evacuations, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
Windsor Fire Chief Jack Piccinini said that nearly every one of Sonoma County’s fire resources is being used, but it is not enough.
“Everyone in Sonoma County is spread out fighting these fires, but they don’t have enough resources to handle something like this. The only thing we can do is hope the wind will come down,” he said.
There is no immediate information on injuries or fatalities.
Emergency lines were inundated with callers reporting smoke in the area, prompting officials to ask that the public “only use 911 if they see actual unattended flames, or are having another emergency.”
Downed trees were blocking parts of one rural road and fires were burning on both sides of Highway 12 as gusts reached up to 60 mph (96.5 kph).
Cal Fire reported that firefighters were battling a 200-acre (80.9-hectare) fire in Napa County.
Community centers, the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and other local centers have been opened for evacuees.
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