The Northern California wildfires keep bringing sobering statistics regarding (an incredible) 17 separate blazes that show no signs of fizzling out. Ferocious winds still whip the flames and hinder any progress by firefighters, who have battled within the Napa, Sonoma, Yuba counties (with Orange County joining the fold for a total of eight counties) since late Sunday night.
The New York Times reports that the death toll associated with these fires has climbed to at least 13. Even more sobering, however, are the number of missing person reports — over 150 — that have so far been made to the state’s applicable hotline. Authorities warn that some of these calls may be duplicates, but these numbers arrive in addition to the over 100 people already being treated in hospitals for burns and smoke inhalation.
One particularly sad story comes from NBC’s Bay Area affiliate, who reports on the deaths of Charlie Rippey, a 100-year-old World War II veteran, and his wife, who became trapped in their home. Their son spoke with reporters:
Their son, Chuck Rippey, told the station that their caregiver contacted him as the fire closed in and said his parents were still inside the Silverado Golf Course home they had lived in for the past 40 years.
“The caregiver called and said there’s fire everywhere,” Chuck Rippey said. “I said get these guys out on the street, and before she knew it, the roof was caving in very fast.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the wildfires had engulfed over 115,000 acres and swallowed 1,500 residential and commercial structures such as wineries and resorts. Around 20,000 people have evacuated from neighborhoods to await further news. Unfortunately, the number of dead and injured are both expected to rise, as these fires will burn for days and possibly weeks to come, and currently, firefighters are concentrating on containment strategies, including “using bulldozers to cut down trees, brush and other flammable materials in front of fires” while continuing to fight the unyielding wind.