It seems that the United States has another natural disaster to worry about, especially for those living in the state of California.
In Sonoma County, California, the community of Geyserville was added to a list of those that were under mandatory evacuations. As weather conditions continue to fuel ravenous wildfires in the area, Boyes Hot Springs and the north side of Sonoma have been issued an evacuation advisory, according to NBC News.
As the situation deteriorates over Northern California, wildfires that have killed at least 23 people show no sign of weakening as officials warn that the situation will only be getting worse.
Additional deaths, recently confirmed from the coroner’s office in Sonoma County, raised the death count from 13 to 23. With weather conditions continuing to be ideal for these wildfires to propagate, experts remain concerned that more lives may be lost.
“You all know the weather conditions – we’re going to see these conditions continue for the next several days, minimum,” said Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “And we’re planning for that, we’re staffing for that. But it’s going to be a long haul.”
22 separate fires in the area have burned more than 170,000 acres in the last two days and have destroyed more than 3,500 structures. The biggest priority, however, is the two large fires ravaging through Sonoma and Napa counties, according to Pimlott.
“We were so lucky to escape with our lives,” said Chris Benziger of Sonoma County, whose family’s home was completely burnt down by the fires. “The fire, it started in Nuns Canyon, not even a quarter-mile from our house, so we had absolutely no warning.”
Benziger said that he and his family was sleeping around 11:30 p.m., and that his entire house was shaking from the force of the wind. “You could hear branches breaking,” and after smelling the scent of smoke, “I went to the window, and that’s when I saw the glow. I got everyone up and said, “’We’ve got to evacuate, we’ve got to get out of here.’”
Despite being a volunteer firefighter, Benziger was blown away at the sheer speed and scale of the destruction. “Both sides of the street were on fire. It was like you see in the movies.”
As fire conditions worsen, authorities have expanded the mandatory evacuation order to include the entire town of Calistoga in Napa County, which has 5,000 residents. As for Sonoma County, the Geyserville community has been added as well, with northern Sonoma and Boyes Hot Springs being issued an evacuation advisory.
Ravenous wildfires continue to spread in California. Can we survive another major emergency?
This year’s wildfires are among the deadliest in Californian history. The last single fire to kill as many people was San Diego County’s Cedar Fire back in 2003, which destroyed 2,200 homes.
In the midst of the chaos, Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said that authorities were still looking for 285 missing individuals. Out of the 600 people reported missing, just over half have been successfully found. “This is about saving lives,” he said, urging people to take the warnings seriously.
Residents in the afflicted areas should listen to local authorities for updates and stay safe.