Towering flames prompt more evacuations as California wildfires kill 35

Towering walls of flames prompted more mandatory evacuations in Northern California early Saturday as firefighters spent another day battling 16 large wildfires around the state that authorities say have killed at least 38 people, left hundreds missing and leveled entire neighborhoods.

The blazes — among the deadliest in the state’s history — have charred more than 214,000 acres of land, forced about 100,000 residents to evacuate and damaged or destroyed at least 5,700 homes and businesses, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“The emergency is not over,” Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said at a press conference Friday. “We are seeing some great progress in some of the areas the fires have impacted.”

“We are still at it, full tilt,” he added.

A total of 29,500 customers were without power as of Friday, while 3,600 people were being housed in 39 statewide shelters Saturday, officials said. With mandatory evacuation orders and road closures still underway, many residents in the affected areas have been warned not to return to their homes until further notice.

Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 in Sonoma County, was among the hardest-hit areas, with at least 2,834 homes, businesses and other buildings destroyed there. Critical infrastructure was also lost in the flames, including the city’s fire station, according to Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey.

As Saturday dawned, an inferno on a hillside cast an intense red glow on the city’s skyline and authorities went door to door urging more residents to evacuate.

About 256 people, most of them elderly, were unaccounted for as of Friday in Sonoma County alone, according to the sheriff’s office.

The National Weather Service on Saturday morning warned that dry, offshore winds were blowing across the wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties and urged residents to heed any evacuation orders. Red flag warnings for gusty winds and low humidity remain in effect this weekend across the fire areas in much of Northern California and parts of Southern California.

The combination of strong winds, dry air and warm temperatures will create “critical fire weather conditions” and “contribute to extreme fire behavior,” the National Weather Service said.

The weather conditions will challenge the more than 10,000 firefighters working to snuff out the flames and prevent new wildfires from igniting.

With firefighters stretched thin throughout the Golden State, hundreds of additional fire engines and personnel have been requested from other states to help relieve crews on the front lines and to prepare for the possibility of more blazes, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Most of the fires ignited on the night of Oct. 8 or during the early morning hours of Oct. 9. Since then, several blazes have merged while some have been completely contained. The cause of the wildfires is still under investigation.

Here’s a roundup of the largest fires still threatening California:

The so-called Tubbs, Pocket and Nuns/Adobe/Norbbom/Pressley/Patrick fires are considered branches of one giant inferno — collectively known as the Central LNU Complex — in Napa and Sonoma counties. Nearly 34,000 structures are threatened, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Additional mandatory evacuation orders went into effect Saturday morning for parts of Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa.

Altogether, the fires have destroyed 2,017 structures and damaged 63 others.

The Atlas fire makes up another huge blaze, known as the Southern LNU Complex, in Napa and Solano counties that threatens 5,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The Redwood/Potter fires and the Sulphur fire make up a giant blaze, known as the Mendocino Lake Complex, in Lake and Mendocino counties that collectively threatens 1,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Altogether, the two fires have destroyed 544 structures and damaged 40 structures while threatening another 1,000.

The Cascade, La Porte and Lobo fires make up one huge blaze in Butte, Nevada and Yuba counties, collectively known as the Wind Complex, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Altogether, the three fires have destroyed 365 structures and damaged 57 others.

ABC News’ Max Golembo, Jenna Harrison, Marilyn Heck, Jonah Lustig and Alex Stone contributed to this report.

Reprinted from here