Northern California wine country fires on track to join state's worst disasters

Emergency declared as NoCal wildfires rage
Emergency declared as NoCal wildfires rage
Emergency declared as NoCal wildfires rage
Posted at 10:14 AM, Oct 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-09 19:58:54-04

(KGTV/AP) - Fires burning in Northern California's wine country were on track Monday to become among the worst in state history, with at least 10 deaths and significant property losses reported.

Officials said, as of 5 p.m. Monday, the biggest of the fires -- the Tubbs and Atlas fires -- have burned about 50,000 acres, respectively.

Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said at a news briefing that at least 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed in the wildfires, although the numbers were a rough estimate. Pimlott noted that the fires are burning rapidly and have little to no containment.

Pimlott said an estimated 20,000 people have been evacuated.

Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

RELATED: PHOTOS: Northern California wildfires

Pimlott said most of the wind-aided fires started at about 10 p.m. Sunday and their causes are under investigation. He said firefighters are concentrating on saving lives rather than battling the blazes.

As for evacuations, Pimlott urged citizens to heed all warnings and orders to leave.

Many residents made terrifying middle-of-the-night scrambles Sunday to flee from the raging wildfires.

Terri Ruttledge, who lives on Adobe Canyon in Kenwood, just made it out before the fire burned her house. She said she looked out her window and saw the mountain across the road on fire. When she couldn't reach 911, she quickly loaded up the car and fled.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered after blazes broke out late Sunday.

Marian Williams said she caravanned with neighbors through flames early Monday as one of several fires reached the vineyards and ridges of the small Sonoma County town of Kenwood.

Williams said she could feel the heat as trees turned into torches.

Meanwhile, more than 200 people were hurriedly evacuated from two Santa Rosa hospitals threatened by wildfires that bloomed overnight.

Lisa Amador, a spokeswoman with Sutter Health, said around 9 a.m. Monday that Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital had finished evacuating the last of more than 80 patients in surgical, labor and emergency care.

She said the hospital is sending staff home. Amador said the hospital and the medical office building next to it are intact, but other structures are ruined.

Jenny Mack, a spokeswoman for Kaiser Permanente, said about 130 patients were evacuated from the Santa Rosa medical center Monday morning.

She said all appointments and surgeries are cancelled for the day in Santa Rosa and Napa, and the KP medical offices in Napa are closed.

10News learned two San Diego Fire-Rescue Department strike teams were sent to Napa County to assist in the firefighting efforts.

Additionally, the San Miguel Fire District sent resources and Heartland Fire sent a team to help fight the fires.