California wildfires erupt in LA, burn in wine country

Nearly 200,000 people under evacuation orders after fire that broke out last week in Sonoma County

Inmate firefighters battle the Kincade Fire in unincorporated Sonoma County, Calif., near Geyservillle on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Firefighters battled destructive wildfires in Northern California wine country and on the wealthy west side of Los Angeles on Monday, trying to beat back flames that forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

California’s biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, cut off power to an estimated 2.5 million people in the northern part of the state over the weekend in yet another round of blackouts aimed at preventing windblown electrical equipment from sparking more fires. And more shut-offs are possible in the next few days.

The blaze that broke out last week amid Sonoma County’s vineyards and wineries north of San Francisco exploded to at least 103 square miles (267 square km), destroying 96 buildings, including at least 40 homes, and threatening 80,000 more structures, authorities said. Nearly 200,000 people were under evacuation orders, mostly from the city of Santa Rosa.

In Southern California, the Los Angeles fire erupted before dawn Monday and roared up slopes into well-to-do neighbourhoods, threatening thousands of homes. Tens of thousands of people were ordered to clear out.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the fire had grown to 500 acres (200 hectares) and that he had seen five burned homes. Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said he expects the number to climb.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted that he and his family had to evacuate their home in the city’s exclusive Brentwood section. There was no immediate word on its fate.

“I pray for all the families in the area that could be affected,” he tweeted. “Pretty please get to safety ASAP.”

The fire was burning in the upper elevations of the Brentwood area. The evacuation area extended westward through Pacific Palisades down to the Pacific Coast Highway, encompassing some of the most exclusive real estate in California, where celebrities and executives live in mountain and ridgetop retreats that cost tens of millions of dollars but are surrounded by tinder-dry vegetation.

Night-flying helicopters made water drops before daybreak, and airplanes unleashing loads of water and bright pink fire retardant joined the battle after the sun came up.

The Getty, with its collection of priceless art, was built with special fire protection features, and Los Angeles fire Capt. Erik Scott said it was not threatened.

Fire conditions statewide have made California a “tinderbox,” said Jonathan Cox, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Of the state’s 58 counties, 43 were under warnings for high fire danger Sunday, with flames driven by gusts that reached more than 102 mph (164 kph).

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over the weekend.

READ MORE: California’s wind-driven blaze spurs massive evacuations

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mural planned for entrance to Port Alberni’s Harbour Quay

Arrowsmith Rotary project falls under the theme ‘building relationships’

City of Port Alberni to review 2020 budget in response to COVID-19

Deadline for final budget adoption is May 15

Alberni school district takes a week off to plan for online education

All buildings and playgrounds in School District 70 closed to the public

Vancouver Island farmers demand on-site slaughter

COVID-19 pandemic puts supply chains at risk, says group

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

‘The Office’ star John Krasinski offers Some Good News in trying times

‘The human spirit still found a way to break through and blow us all away’

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

No laws in B.C. to force businesses to offer refunds, even during a pandemic

Black Press Media talks to Consumer Protection BC on how to navigate during COVID-19

COVID-19 essential workers can apply for B.C. pre-school child care

Parent referral opens, providers offered emergency funding

Most abiding by COVID-19 rules, back fines, arrests of those who aren’t: poll

But 64 per cent said they’ve personally witnessed people not respecting the measures

Walkers, grocery store customers courteous with physical distancing in B.C.

Some cyclists also acknowledge each other and walkers as well on a wide trail

B.C. worker advocate group calls for more sick days, protected medical leave

COVID-19 highlights need for changes to workers legislation: Retail Action Network

Sweet treat helps make workers at Island health care centre feel complete

Girl Guide cookies always in good taste when showing appreciation

Most Read