Massive wildfires continue to plague Northern California as the death toll climbs and a trail of devastation is being left behind.
ABC News reports that at least 29 people have been killed by blazes in the region with hundreds of other residents are reported missing. Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano has indicated that he believes the number of casualties will rise as time progresses.
“The devastation is enormous,” said Giordano. “We can’t even get into most areas.”
Over 8,000 fire personnel are battling to contain the flames which have destroyed at least 3,500 homes and businesses since the activity began on Sunday evening. Federal agencies, neighboring states and fire departments across the country are lending their assistance to the effort.
“We are at very low containment on most of these,” said director of the state Office of Emergency Services Mark Ghilarducci. “These fires are literally burning faster than firefighters can run.”
Evacuations have been required in a number of communities including for an evacuation call for the Napa Valley town of Calistoga. California Governor Jerry Brown has issued emergency declarations for Napa, Sonoma, and Yuba Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada, Orange and Solano counties. At a news conference, Brown stressed the severity of the wildfires raging within the state.
“We have had big fires in the past,” said Brown. “This is one of the biggest, most serious, and it’s not over.”
Meteorologists expect winds to be gusty through Saturday with a second cold front approaching the fire-damaged area.