Published: Tue, October 10, 2017
Money | By Charlene Sutton

'Armageddon': Wildfires engulf 50k acres in California's wine country

'Armageddon': Wildfires engulf 50k acres in California's wine country

The rapidly moving Atlas Peak fire was visible throughout Napa Valley and heavy smoke was draping over the region.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott told the Associated Press that an expected 20,000 individuals in the northern piece of the state had been emptied. 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.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered from a wildfire reported between Calistoga and Santa Rosa, to the east of Porter Creek Road and Petrified Forest Road, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office announced shortly after 11 p.m.

If O'Gorman hadn't been coming home from work to wake her family, "we would have been in the house trapped", she said.

The Santa Rosa Police Department said the blaze jumped Highway 101 Monday morning and ignited structures near a shopping area, prompting another neighborhood evacuation.

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More than 200 people were hurriedly evacuated from Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital and Santa Rosa Medical Centre, where the blaze could be seen raging nearby.

Several evacuation centers have been set up, but many have already reached capacity.

Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties because of wildfires that the governor says are threatening thousands of homes.

The California Highway Patrol Santa Rosa Division said in a tweet early Monday that the community of Kenwood, in unincorporated Sonoma County, also was evacuated.

"The winds have just been outrageous here tonight, and essentially we are in a mode of saving people's lives and getting people out of harm's way at the moment", Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said.

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Numerous fires spread suddenly, whipped by furious winds.

The city of Santa Rosa, a popular hub for wine enthusiasts, is facing some of the worst damage from the fires.

A smoke advisory has been issued for San Francisco, telling residents to "close windows and limit outdoor activities". "I mean blazing, falling down on fire". A Calistoga shelter was opened at the Napa County Fairgrounds, 1435 N. Oak St.

Flames were also burning near the Domaine Carneros winery.

In the first hours of the Atlas Peak fire, fire and sheriff's units went house to house just north of Silverado Resort urging residents to leave.

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

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