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

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

South Vancouver Island B.C. Hydro Customers without power

Due to high winds nearly 3,900 B.C. Hydro customer will be out of power

Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

Budget also includes additional funding for Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Search begins for two missing scouts near Sooke

Crews headed to Jordan River area after receiving call just after 2 p.m.

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read