Sheriff drives through hellish landscape during California wildfires


Firefighters facing a resurgence of high winds on Wednesday struggled to halt wildfires that have killed at least 23 people, destroyed 3,500 structures and left hundreds missing in chaotic evacuations across northern California's wine country.

He said that autumn - when summer heat has dried out brush - is the most unsafe time of the year for wildfires in the state, adding that California was still feeling the effects of five years of drought. He is helping oversee the 8,000 firefighters battling the flames.

The team consists of one engine from the City of Santa Barbara, one from Santa Maria, one from Lompoc, one from Montecito and one from Carpinteria/Summerland.

Earlier in the day, the Yuba County Sheriff's Department reported a second person had died in the Cascade Fire.

Northern California's raging wildfires continued to spread Wednesday, fanned by stiff winds that forced new evacuations in a widening circle of damage.

Community Baptist Church in Santa Rosa, Calif., also is ministering to the community, Lawler said.

Maj. Gen. David Baldwin of the California National Guard says 242 soldiers and airmen are assisting in responding to the fires in the two counties.

John Van Dyke, standing in his pyjamas near the 101 Freeway in Santa Rosa, watched a hillside in flames from the Tubbs fire.

The third team, led by a County Fire battalion chief and a trainee, is made up of five County Fire engines.

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"It will let firefighters know whether their lines were good enough along parts of the fire or not", Lareau said. "Nor should we", Hill said. "We're at the minimum (staffing) we can be". "The long-term trend is more fires, and clearly we're having warmer, dryer weather in the west". This spurred a lot of new plant life, but by summer all that vegetation had dried out.

Winds are likely to pick back up Wednesday, with a possibility of gusts up to 50 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

There's no rain in the forecast for the next seven days, meaning these conditions are expected to persist.

By Saturday, the winds will shift to the northeast, bringing the unsafe Sundowner condition that has driven so many wildfires along the Central Coast.

Wildfires have damaged or demolished at least 13 Napa Valley wineries, a trade group for vintners there said on Tuesday.

"We hope we can weather this and not have any major event", Eliason said.

"They just couldn't be without each other".

"If they have a malfunctioning catalytic converter, they're not going to go driving up over San Marcos (Pass)", he added.

A drone captured an otherworldly sight in Santa Rosa, California - a U.S. Postal Services worker dutifully delivering mail to addresses where only charred foundations remain after a fast-moving fire ripped through the neighborhood. "They should be ready to go. Getting them evacuated was an extreme challenge for rescue crews".