More evacuations ordered as deadly wildfires scorch Northern California

Updated 10:46 PM EDT, Tue October 10, 2017
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Story highlights

NEW: Death toll rises to 17 in Northern California

About 2,000 structures in the state are destroyed, according to fire authorities

(CNN) —  

New evacuations were ordered Tuesday evening as more than a dozen wildfires raged across Northern California, with the largest ones killing at least 17 people as they scorched the state’s famous wine country.

The largest of the deadly fires were burning in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, with flames ripping through the lush, picturesque landscape.

Officials in the city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County called for the evacuations of five more areas Tuesday evening. Already, 20,000 people had been ordered to leave the area and other parts of Northern California.

It is too early to tell whether any of the wildfires were started by humans, said Ken Pimlott, director of Cal Fire. “All these fires are under investigation,” he told reporters, adding that his department was focusing on rescues and firefighting. But he said the chance the fires were caused by lightning was “fairly minimal.”

Here’s what we know so far, according to California authorities.

• Ten people have died and the number is expected to grow.

• Two of those who died were in Napa County, county spokeswoman Kristi Jourdan said. They were 100-year-old Charles Rippey and his wife, Sara, 98. They died when a fire engulfed their home near the Silverado Country Club north of Napa, Jourdan said.

• About 2,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed by the fires in Northern California, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Tuesday.

• More than 100 people were being treated at Napa- and Sonoma-area hospitals for fire-related injuries or health issues, including burns, smoke inhalation and shortness of breath.

• An estimated 1,500 structures have been destroyed and 57,000 acres burned in eight counties.

Before and after: Images of California devastation

• Most of the Northern California fires ignited Sunday night, driven by winds of more than 50 mph and dry conditions, Pimlott said Monday. The high winds led to “extreme rates of spread and volatile burning conditions,” according to Cal Fire.

Santa Rosa's Coffey Park Neighboorhood

Google Maps, CHP - Golden Gate Division

• More than 180 people are missing, but authorities think communications issues are making it impossible for many of those people to check in with family.

Destruction in Santa Rosa

Margaret Curzon said her parents lost almost everything in the wildfire that destroyed their home and the Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa, a city of about 175,000 roughly 50 miles northwest of San Francisco.

Her mom woke up early Monday morning and smelled smoke, but thought it was the neighbor’s barbecue or chimney, so she went back to sleep. They woke up again because their bichon frise, Brady, was whimpering.