California wildfires disaster could 'get worse before it gets better'

California wildfires disaster could 'get worse before it gets better'

With 21 wildfires now burning in California, agencies throughout the state are pouring assistance into the devastated areas, and four strike teams and a bulldozer from this county are among them, said Mike Eliason, public information officer for Santa Barbara County Fire Department. Authorities said Tuesday that at least 15 people have died in the fires, and more 200 missing-person reports were filed in Sonoma County alone, though 45 have been found.

The wildfires that started on Sunday night have burned almost 170,000 acres throughout the state, CNN reported. Conditions eased somewhat Tuesday - but the National Weather Service says high winds could return to the area beginning late Wednesday night, with gusts over 50 miles per hour.

If it turns out that PG&E is responsible for this fire and negligent for not putting in the resources or for diverting the resources, then I will be the first one to stand up and say we need to dissolve PG&E as a private company and form a public utility.

A deputy of the Sonoma County Sheriff department captured the dashcam footage on Franz Valley Road.

With heavy smoke posing a health risk, people have been rushing to buy face masks.

At least 20,000 people remained under evacuation as the fires raged largely unchecked for a third day, belching palls of smoke that engulfed the region and drifted south over the San Francisco Bay area, where some residents donned face masks.

Thousands of firefighters battled wind gusts in excess of 80 kilometres per hour as 14 wildfires - several out of control - in eight northern California counties burned through more than 23,000 hectares since the weekend, CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant said. "Jumped a six-lane highway and was indiscriminate in its destruction of residential and commercial structures".

In Mendocino - a coastal county famed for its pristine beaches and redwoods - the fire "was random and cruel", said Alison de Grassi, a longtime resident who said she had never seen anything like it.

"Any wind event is a concern, and September and October are our hottest months", Eliason said.

All of it primed the state for disaster when two weather patterns got into position to play their roles in the drama. "We are just trying to keep people alive". Air tankers dropped 266,000 gallons of retardant from the skies Monday. "We're not going to be out of the woods for a great number of days to come", said fire chief Ken Pimlott. Some 4,000 people are battling the fires, including crews from Nevada and the U.S. Forest Service.

Above is CHP footage and below is Sonoma County Sheriff's helicopter footage of the intense Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa in the early morning hours of Monday, as seen from above.

Pacific Gas & Electric said more than 94,000 customers were without power as of Tuesday morning, and gas service was shut off to 30,000 customers.