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Death Toll Rises In Northern California Wine Country Wildfires: New Evacuations Ordered

SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) -- The death toll from the devastating wildfires in Northern California wine country rose to 17 on Tuesday as firefighters struggled to get any containment on more than a dozen fires in the region.

Late Tuesday, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office raised its total number of bodies found to 11. Six other bodies have been found in Mendocino, Napa and Yuba counties.

wine country wildfires
Homeowner Martha Marquez looks over her burned home in Santa Rosa, California on October 10. (Josh Edelson/Getty Images)

More than 2,ooo homes and businesses have been destroyed and at least 115,000 acres have been burned by 15 wildfires in the region, with the largest fires having zero containment.

The Atlas fire was 3 percent contained as of late Tuesday night.

At least 185 people have been injured as a result of the wildfires. Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital has treated approximately 100 people since the wildfires began Sunday night. Queen of the Valley hospital said early Tuesday that they have treated at least 50 people.

Most had respiratory-related issues, but 14 were treated for burns with at least three patients in the ICU.

READ MORE: Complete Wildfire Coverage

Wine Country Wildfires: How You Can Help

New evacuations Tuesday evening

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office announced the following mandatory evacuations: Monticello Park, Silverado Country Club, Hardman/McKinley/Estee, Circle Oaks, Buhman, Wild Horse Valley Road, Silverado Trail from Trancas to SR 128, SR 128 to Moskowite.

Evacuations were also ordered for Sonoma Mountain, Bennett Ridge and Enterprise roads in the Bennett Valley area of Santa Rosa at 3:52 p.m.

In Napa County, mandatory evacuations were ordered for the areas of Mt. Veeder Road at Redwood Road, Mt. Veeder Road at Dry Creek Road and Dry Creek Road to the Sonoma County line. These areas are adjacent to the Patrick fire in Napa County.

Other mandatory evacuations were underway Tuesday evening for the Berryessa Highlands and areas adjacent to the Atlas fire in Napa County.

Evacuations in the Montebello Road area on the south side of Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, north of Santa Rosa and south of Windsor, began after a fire broke out in the 5500 block of Faught Road around 4:08 p.m.

The Sheriff's Office announced an evacuation east of the Bennett Valley Golf Course at 4:24 p.m. Santa Rosa police and the sheriff's office were evacuating that area and west of Trione-Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa.

Residents of the Pacific Heights area behind Molsberry's Market in Larkfield were ordered to evacuate around 4:45 p.m., and residents of the Ida Clayton area of Geyserville from state Highway 128 to the Napa County line were ordered to evacuate as a fire spread north.

The Napa County Sheriff's Office ordered mandatory evacuations at 4:54 p.m. residents near Mt. Veeder Road west of Yountville. Residents were instructed to use Oakville Grade to get off the mountain.

In Solano County, 600 homes have been evacuated in the Green Valley area near Fairfield as the Napa fire continued its march east. A change in wind direction Tuesday afternoon accelerated the fire's movement into Solano County.

In Mendocino County, evacuations were in place for Potter Valley, the Community of Redwood Valley and Golden Rule.

Two evacuation centers in Mendocino County are Ukiah High School and Willits City Hall. A large animal evacuation center is at the Ukiah Fair Grounds.

Multiple Wildfires Destroy Homes, Threaten California Wine Country
Smoke rises from a neighborhood that was destroyed by a fast moving wild fire on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

State of emergency

Gov. Jerry Brown late Tuesday evening declared a state of emergency in Solano County because of the 25,000-acre Atlas Fire. On Monday, Brown declared states of emergency for Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada and Orange counties because of the multiple fires around the state.

The governor's requested for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support the state and local response to the Northern California fires was approved earlier on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump said the federal government will be there for the people of California as they deal with devastating wildfires.

Trump said he spoke with Gov. Brown on Monday night to "let him know that the federal government will stand with the people of California. And we will be there for you in this time of terrible tragedy and need."

Much of the damage has been in Santa Rosa, a far larger and more developed city than usually finds itself at the mercy of a wildfire. The city is home to 175,000 residents, including both the wine-country wealthy and the working class.

The flames were unforgiving to both groups. Hundreds of homes of all sizes were leveled by flames so hot they melted the glass off of cars and turned aluminum wheels into liquid.

In Sonoma County, Sheriff Robert Giordano said at a news conference that his agency was working its way through the 240 missing persons reports that have been filed since the fire started Sunday.

"We have a team of people working on finding the missing people," he said. "There are 240 missing persons reports as of now. Of that 240, we've actually located 57 people safely. So a lot of communication issues. A lot of power issues. Hooking people up with their families has been very important to us."

Redwood Complex Fire burnt out car (CBS)

Major fires update

The Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County, which started near Calistoga and spread west to Santa Rosa, has burned 27,000 acres and was zero percent contained.

The Atlas Fire, which started in Napa County south of Lake Berryessa, has burned 25,000 acres and was also zero percent contained. It has also prompted evacuations in west Solano County.

The Nuns Fire in Sonoma County, north of Glen Ellen, has burned 5,000 acres and was also zero percent contained.

The Redwood/Potter Fires in Mendocino County, together known as the Mendocino Lake Complex, has burned 21,000 acres and is zero percent contained.

Death toll rises

A third victim of the Redwood Complex fire in Mendocino County was discovered Tuesday morning in the burned-out remains of a home.

A new death was reported early Tuesday in Yuba County where a person was killed as they attempted to flee the flames. Officials expect the wildfire death toll to continue to rise.

An elderly couple in Napa County were among the dead. At a morning news conference, county authorities identified the couple as 100-year-old Charles Rippey and his 98-year-old wife Sara.

Sonoma County has confirmed 11 deaths, Mendocino County three deaths, Napa County two and the single death in Yuba County.

Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman told reporters at a Tuesday morning news conference he feared more victims may be found because of "the people who have not checked in with relatives."

"There have been complete neighborhoods wiped out," he said. "We had two confirmed deaths and I think it's fair to say we had the third confirmed death. Two bodies have been removed. The third body our detective unit is in the process of working to remove that body."

Allman said 50 residences had been destroyed along with 40 other buildings so far in the fire, but he expected that number to climb.

"The most damage that I am aware of was on the northern portion of Redwood Valley," Allman said.

He said he did not anticipate any additional evacuations on Tuesday.

"We are now going into a recovery mode instead of a rescue mode," Allman said.

Reinforcements arrive, looting

Firefighters from across California continued to arrive in the region Tuesday and more reinforcements were on the way. California National Guard helicopters have also joined the fleet of 50 aircraft help to fight the blazes.

Search and rescue teams were also arriving from Marin County and other Bay Area cities and counties.

In Santa Rosa, a curfew continued into daybreak to help stem looting -- San Francisco had sent 100 police officers to Santa Rosa to help keep looters at bay. Evacuated residents were told they would be allowed into many of the fire ravaged neighborhoods after sunrise.

Power, gas outages

About 75,000 electric customers were without service in the North Bay, with the majority of those in Sonoma and Napa counties, a PG&E spokeswoman said Tuesday evening.

Roughly 50,000 customers were without power in the Santa Rosa area and roughly 15,000 were out in the Napa area, which is 5,000 less than Tuesday afternoon, according to PG&E spokeswoman Andrea Menniti.

At one point Monday, there were at least 114,000 customers affected by the outage.

PG&E has shut off gas service for roughly 40,000 customers in the Santa Rosa, Yountville, Napa and Kenwood areas as a safety precaution since fire can damage gas pipes and meters. That's up from 28,000 customers Tuesday afternoon.

The California National Guard has been tasked with bringing fuel to first responders battling the flames in Northern California because so many gas stations are without power.

Officials say trucks are bringing fuel into inaccessible areas and helping fuel emergency vehicles directly from the trucks. The utility companies, meanwhile, have representatives stationed at the state's emergency operations headquarters in Sacramento working to get power back up and running.

Taken as a group, the fires are already among the deadliest in California history.

Residents who gathered at emergency shelters and grocery stores said they were shocked by the speed and ferocity of the flames. They recalled all the possessions they had left behind and were lost.

"All that good stuff, I'm never going to see it again," said Jeff Okrepkie, who fled his neighborhood in Santa Rosa knowing it was probably the last time he would see his home of the past five years standing.

His worst fears were confirmed Monday, when a friend sent him a photo of what was left: a smoldering heap of burnt metal and debris.

Wineries destroyed

A key Napa County vintner says at least five wineries in his trade group are destroyed or seriously damaged in a region synonymous with excellent food and wine.

The Napa Valley Vintners association earlier Tuesday had put the number at four. But board chairman Michael Honig said the latest count was five. He said damage was to facilities, and the group does not know about vineyards.

Honig said the next few days might not be the best time to sample wines, but he wants people to visit in a week or two. He is convinced the Napa brand will survive.

TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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