Sheriff drives through hellish landscape during California wildfires

Massive wildfires ripped through Napa and Sonoma counties early Monday destroying hundreds of homes and businesses on Monday

13 dead as wildfires torch California wine country, state of emergency declared in eight counties

Rietman is only one of many who have lost their homes and belongings to the devastating firestorm reigning terror on Northern California's North Bay area.

Wildfires fanned by strong winds have ripped through Californian wine country, killing at least 10 people, forcing some 20,000 residents to flee and destroying 1,500 homes and businesses.

Almost two dozen blazes spanning eight counties have charred around 170,000 acres (68,797 hectares).

The weather gave firefighters a bit of a respite on Tuesday as cooler temperatures, lower winds and coastal fog enabled them to make headway against the flames.

It is the deadliest single California wildfire since 2003, when the so-called Cedar fire killed 15 people in San Diego, according to state data. Federal officials also warn that dust masks aren't sufficient to protect against fine particles from wildfire smoke.

"We're not out of the woods and we're not going to be out of the woods for a great number of days to come", Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), told a news conference. "Jumped a six-lane highway and was indiscriminate in its destruction of residential and commercial structures". Join us in a conversation about world events, the newsgathering process or whatever aspect of the news universe you find interesting or important. Many people were asleep when the fire started.

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The McClellan Reload Base, an airstrip that is used to support aerial firefighting efforts, "pumped over 266,000 gallons of fire retardant Monday".

According to CAL FIRE's statewide fire map, there are 32 active fires.

The biggest blazes are in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, part of The Golden State's famous wine country.

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

The Sheriff's Office announced an evacuation east of the Bennett Valley Golf Course at 4:24 p.m. Santa Rosa police and the sheriff's office were evacuating that area and west of Trione-Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa. In some cases, the utility has purposefully cut power to prevent lines from endangering first responders. It also cut gas service to more than 44,000 customers, because of the quick-spreading fires.

Officials are telling residents who are under mandatory evacuation orders to stay away until an all-clear order is given.

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Hours later Tunis texted an AP reporter to say that her brother, Robert, had found her mother's remains among the debris.

"Climate change is definitely a significant piece of why we're having more fires", says Stewart.

"This to me is like a nuclear bomb went off", Larson said near his home. Still, they said it was a relief to see their house spared.

Frances Dinkelspiel, a journalist in Berkeley, turned to social media for help finding her stepbrother Jim Conley after tweeting authorities and getting little help.

"They're not reporting anything". "There were times at night when my street was like a freeway", Hammar said. "I don't know how effective that was".

McCallister said that some of those neighbors are the reason she and her husband were able to grab necessities and get out.

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