Mass evacuations as wildfire erupts in California wine country

Mass evacuation as fire burns in Northern California
Mass evacuation as fire burns in Northern Cal... 01:45

Strong gusts of dry wind are fueling more than two dozen major fires in California. Air quality alerts are posted in much of the state, and in Northern California tens of thousands of people are under new evacuation orders.

Parts of California's wine country have been incinerated by a new wildfire that continues to burn out of control on Monday. Powerful winds — gusting up to 50 mph — fanned the flames of the so-called Glass Fire overnight, more than quadrupling the number of acres burned in Napa and Sonoma counties.

At least three fires have now merged, forming the one massive inferno. The first blaze sparked early Sunday morning and was 0% contained as of early Monday, according to Cal Fire

In an instant, home after home nestled along the hillsides quickly became kindling. Nearly 80,000 people have been ordered to evacuate as 8,500 structures are under threat.  

Firefighters are flanking the edges of Santa Rosa – a city of 177,000 residents.

"Our number one concern is protecting lives and property and hopefully stop it from pushing farther where we don't want it to go," firefighter Dustin Blumenthal said.

Glass Fire Burns Through Napa Valley As Hot And Dry Conditions Return To Northern California
Grapevines at Chateau Boswell Winery burn as the Glass Fire moves through the area on September 27, 2020, in St. Helena, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Overnight, elderly residents at a retirement community in Santa Rosa had to be loaded onto city buses and driven to safety. And popular locations, like the Chateau Boswell Winery, went up in flames.  

This wine region is unfortunately no stranger to wildfires. In 2017, the Tubbs Fire killed 22 people.

So far this year in California, more than 8,000 wildfires have scorched over 3.7 million acres and claimed the lives of at least 26 people, according to figures from Cal Fire.

  • Jonathan Vigliotti On Twitter»

    Jonathan Vigliotti is a CBS News foreign correspondent based in London.