Fueled by dry brush and timber, low humidity and, at times, hurricane-force winds, wildfires continue to rush through the forests and over the rolling hills of Northern California’s picturesque landscape.
With alarming speed, the inferno has reduced hundreds of homes to embers and forced thousands of Californians to flee to safety. Over one 12-hour period since the blazes began — more than a dozen of them — they burned 20,000 acres, a rate of about a football field every three seconds.
The deadly fires have also consumed some of the popular wineries and vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties, but concerns for wine country — one of the region’s most important economic engines — are secondary at best as beleaguered first responders scramble through and above the fires in search of those trapped. Many residents risked the blaze in hopes of saving their properties with garden hoses and buckets of water.
As one Napa Valley winemaker put it, “Wine doesn’t matter; people matter.”
An aerial photo taken on Tuesday, October 10, shows homes of homes that were burned by wildfire in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa, California. Josh Haner/The New York Times/Redux
A building burns at the Signorello Estate vineyards in Napa, California, on Monday, October 9. Noah Berger/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
Neighbors try to help save a home in Santa Rosa on Monday, October 9. Mason Trinca/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
The sign of a Firestone store malfunctions in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, October 10. Karl Mondon/San Jose Mercury News/AP
A TV cameraman inches closer to a burning building at a Napa Valley winery on Monday, October 9. Peter DaSilva/Polaris
Evacuee Haley Vining rests on a cot after spending the night at a community center in Petaluma, California, on Tuesday, October 10. Her family lost their mobile home. Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
A resident rushes to salvage his home as a wildfire moves through Glen Ellen, California, on Monday, October 9. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A palm tree is engulfed in smoke in Santa Rosa on Monday, October 9. Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
Steph Gediman, right, comforts Brandi Burns in front of her destroyed home in Santa Rosa on Monday, October 9. Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
Danny Dortch helps firefighter Derick O’Leary in Santa Rosa on Monday, October 9. Mason Trinca/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
An apartment burns in Santa Rosa on Monday, October 9. Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
A Hilton hotel burns in Santa Rosa on Monday, October 9. Paul Kuroda/ZUMA Wire
Firefighter Jason Sheumann battles a wildfire in Napa on Monday, October 9. Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Highway Patrol officers go door to door to ask residents in Sonoma, California, to evacuate their homes as a wildfire approaches on Wednesday, October 11. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Embers fly from a tree Monday, October 9, in front of a leveled structure at the Nicholson Ranch winery in Sonoma. Noah Berger/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
Firefighters battle a wildfire at an apartment complex in Santa Rosa on Monday, October 9. Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
Fire extinguishers lie on the ground near the Journey’s End mobile home park in Santa Rosa on Monday, October 9. Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
Colby Clark, left, comforts her mother, Bonnie Trexler, after law enforcement escorted them to Trexler’s home in Napa to retrieve medicine and personal items on Wednesday, October 11. Trexler was one of the lucky few in her neighborhood whose home was spared. Randy Pench /The Sacramento Bee/AP
A historic barn burns in Santa Rosa on Monday, October 9. Kent Porter/The Press Democrat/AP
The remains of homes are seen through a damaged car in Glen Ellen on Monday, October 9. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images