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article imageDeath toll in California fires stands at 21 with over 500 missing

By Karen Graham     Oct 11, 2017 in Environment
Santa Rosa - The death toll from the devastating wildfires that continue to spread across Northern California has risen to 21 as of Wednesday., while the number of people unaccounted for has risen to over 600.
Desperate family members and friends have been taking to social media, checking hospitals and shelters in an attempt to find neighbors and loved ones missing because of the wildfires. The number of people unaccounted for keeps growing, with the number put at 670 in hard-hit Sonoma County alone, according to ABC News.
Napa County Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht understands the desperation of people trying to locate the missing. He says it's difficult to ascertain the exact numbers because some names may be duplicates or people could be safe and just haven't told anyone.
The Signorello Estate winery burns in California's Napa wine region
The Signorello Estate winery burns in California's Napa wine region
JOSH EDELSON, AFP
He cites the general confusion and cellphone service being out across wide areas as adding to the lack of information. "We get calls and people searching for lost folks and they're not lost, they're just staying with somebody and we don't know where it is," Wagenknecht said.
As of Wednesday, 22 wildfires were burning in Northern California, up from 17 the day before. Over 170,000 acres have been burned and over 3,500 structures, including homes and businesses, have been destroyed. Firefighters are racing to extinguish hotspots today, in anticipation of the fierce winds that are expected to pick back up this evening.
The remains of a McDonald's restaurant in Santa Rosa  California
The remains of a McDonald's restaurant in Santa Rosa, California
JOSH EDELSON, AFP
Officials say they are concerned that strong winds of from 20 to 30 mph forecast for Wednesday evening and Thursday morning will spread embers from the deadly Tubbs fire to populated areas of Santa Rosa and Calistoga that have so far been spared the flames, resulting in new evacuation orders being issued.
“We are facing some pretty significant monsters,” Cal Fire incident commander Bret Couvea told a room of about 200 firefighters and law enforcement officials at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds staging area on Wednesday morning, reports the Los Angeles Times.
A helicopter drops water near homes in California's Anaheim Hills neighborhood
A helicopter drops water near homes in California's Anaheim Hills neighborhood
FREDERIC J. BROWN, AFP
While some evacuation orders have been lifted in Yuba and Nevada Counties, there are still upwards of 50,000 people still out of their homes, and more evacuations may be likely. October is typically the month when California sees its largest and most destructive wildfires.
So far, the fires have been thriving on the accumulation of dead vegetation caused by the dry conditions and low humidity, however, with those winds coming in from the North and no rains in the forecast for at least the next seven days, it doesn't look good.
More about California, Wildfires, 160000 acres, historic wind event, Climate
 
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