Fiji Time: 10:19 PM on Friday 23 February

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Death toll rises

Reuters
Friday, October 13, 2017

SONOMA, Calif. - Firefighters, facing resurgent winds and bone-dry conditions on Wednesday, battled to halt the advance of wildfires that have killed 21 people, destroyed 3500 homes and businesses and blanketed Northern California's famed wine country in smoke.

A rash of 22 blazes spanning nine counties have scorched about 170,000 acres (68,797 hectares) since the first flames erupted on Sunday night in what state fire officials say is one of the deadliest wildfire outbreaks in California history.

More than 550 people were still reported missing in Sonoma County on Wednesday morning, said Jennifer Laroque, a spokesperson for the county's emergency operations center.

It was unclear how many might be actual fire victims rather than evacuees who merely failed to check in with authorities after fleeing their homes. Officials urged displaced residents to let their family members know they were safe.

The Sonoma County town of Santa Rosa, the largest city in the wine country region, was particularly hard hit by one of the fiercest blazes, the so-called Tubbs fire.








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