LOS ANGELES – At least 13 people have died in wildfires in Northern California that have scorched more than 46,500 hectares (180 sq. miles) and engulfed the state’s world-renowned wine producing regions, authorities said Tuesday.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection provided the figures in its latest update, saying the fatalities were the result of fires in Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa and Yuba counties.
Authorities said at least 1,500 structures, including a hotel and a trailer park in the city of Santa Rosa, had been destroyed by flames from 17 different fires that have extended to nine Northern California counties.
More than 103,000 people are without gas and electricity, while at least 20,000 residents have been forced from their homes, authorities said. A half-dozen school districts canceled classes on Monday.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said on Tuesday it had received reports of around 150 people missing.
“We are confident that many of these people will be found safe and reunited with loved ones, but unfortunately we are preparing for further fatalities,” it said on Facebook.
Emergency teams said on Tuesday that lower temperatures and a lessening of the winds that had caused the fires to spread allowed firefighters to make progress overnight in controlling the blazes.
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday declared a state of emergency in the counties affected by the fires.
The fires first erupted Sunday night in Napa County for reasons that remain unknown.