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article imageCalifornia wildfires explode overnight, forcing thousands to flee

By Karen Graham     Sep 28, 2020 in Environment
About 4,500 residents of a senior living community were among thousands of Californians Monday driven from their homes in Sonoma County by new wildfires that exploded in size overnight.
Several new wildfires - whipped by gusting winds - forced thousands to evacuate immediately and thousands more to prepare for possible evacuation orders as firefighters tried to get a handle on the blazes in California's Napa, Sonoma, Butte and Shasta counties.
The Glass Fire in Napa County started Sunday and quadrupled in reported size between Sunday evening and Monday morning, from 2,500 acres to 11,000 acres, according to Cal Fire, destroying the Chateau Boswell winery and the Glass Mountain Inn, as the fire roared through hills and valleys, leaping over both the Silverado Trail and the Lodi River.
"It's a cremation," Craig Battuello, whose family has raised grapes in St. Helena for more than a century, told CNN affiliate KPIX.
The Glass Fire is threatening about 2,200 structures, and 1,800 people have already been evacuated, while about 5,000 people are under some form of evacuation notification, Napa County spokeswoman Janet Upton said, according to CTV News Canada.
One person forced to evacuate was Jan Zakin, who lives in the evacuation zone on North Crystal Springs Road. "We woke up in the middle of the night and saw flames," Zakin told CNN affiliate KGO.
"I was in my underwear. There was a car on fire blocking access out. My dog ran away; I still haven't found her. We left with nothing, just literally with nothing. We're so lucky to be alive." Zakin's dog was found hours later, badly burned. The pet is being treated by a veterinarian.
Additional evacuations were also ordered about 40 miles west of Napa County in Santa Rosa late Sunday night because of two new fires in that area,
The Shady Fire, burning west of the city of Santa Rose, has already destroyed at least half a dozen homes and is where the senior living community of 4,500 people is located. City busses were used to evacuate the seniors, who joined about 6,800 other residents of Santa Rosa and surrounding unincorporated areas ordered to flee the blaze.
Another new wildfire, called the Zogg Fire, located Shasta County, close to Zogg Mine Road and Jenny Bird Lane, North of Igo, has burned over 7,000 acres since starting on Sunday.
All these areas - like much of Northern California, are under a red flag fire warning until Monday night because of weather conditions that include gusty winds, low humidity and high temperatures. An added concern is the coming Santa Ana winds that blow through October and November.
In Southern California, the NWS tweeted, "Due to hot temperatures, dry conditions, and gusty Santa Ana winds, a Red Flag Warning will be in effect on Monday for the LA/Ventura mountains and Santa Clarita Valley. There will be the potential for rapid fire growth and extreme fire behavior, so be alert."
On Sunday, Pacific Gas & Electric said planned shutoffs in northern California had decreased from 100,000 to 65,000 because of "favorable changes in forecast weather conditions." Napa County, where the Glass Fire is raging, is on the list of counties that could experience shutoffs.
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