Wildfires Destroy Over 1500 Buildings, 1 Dead in Wine Country, Northern California

Napa County fire just outside of American Canyon

Windsor Fire Chief Jack Piccinini said that almost every one of Sonoma County's fire resources is being used, but it is not enough. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon, as wildfires in the state's wine country exploded into some of its worst in history. The city lost a Kmart and an unknown number of other businesses and homes as the blaze shut down schools and forced patients at two hospitals to evacuate.

The Atlas Peak fire was the largest of several wildfires, quickly growing to more than 200 acres near Napa.

Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said the fires had burned more than 68 square miles (176 sq. kilometers).

Other fires have also prompted evacuations in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Glen Ellen and other areas. Strong winds have blown the smoke from the fires, which have burned tens of thousands of acres, throughout the Bay Area, air district officials said.

Piccinni said nearly all of Sonoma County's fire assets were being utilized.

Santa Rosa also ordered evacuations in several neighborhoods.

Highway 37 has reopened in both directions between Novato and Vallejo after being closed early Monday morning because of a vegetation fire, California Highway Patrol officials said.

Numerous fires spread suddenly, whipped by furious winds. He said it took firetrucks ages to arrive Monday morning.

In recent memory, there hasn't been anything like the wildfires now burning in these relatively densely populated areas of the North Bay, and several cities and towns are likely to be assessing damages for weeks to come, and rebuilding for years to come, including Santa Rosa and Glen Ellen.

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. Gusts were predicted to be in the 30 miles per hour range in the area of the fire.

"Very, very volatile fire conditions", McLean said.

Flames were also burning near the Domaine Carneros winery.

The Napa Valley Register reported that authorities have been going to homes north of Silverado Resort asking residents to leave.

Shelters were opened at the Calistoga Fairgrounds and a Napa church, and firefighters said their primary focus is on saving lives before fighting the flames.

Smoke from the conflagrations could be sensed as far as San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

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