California governor declares state of emergency in 3 fire-scarred counties

A fire burns in Napa County late Sunday Oct. 8 2017

AP News in Brief at 12:04 am EDT

As the evacuations expand, residents are being forced to move to shelters, schools have canceled class and the Santa Rosa Police Department warned the rapidly expanding fires are a "life-threatening situation".

As many as 1,500 structures have been damaged or destroyed in the fires raging across Napa and Sonoma counties. The morning commute on southbound Highway 101 was slower than normal as additional cars evacuating the fire were on the roadway. The Los Angeles Times reported the fire's burned 35,000 acres.

The state of emergency extends to Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties, where thousands of homes and other structures have already burned or are threatened. Mandatory evacuations are in effect in several areas and almost 20 shelters have opened from Cloverdale to Petaluma and from Guerneville to Sonoma.

Fires are also burning in Butte and Nevada counties. At least one person has died and two people suffered serious injuries as a result of one of the blazes that ignited in Mendocino County, according to Cal Fire.

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"The Fountaingrove Inn across the street from the mobile home park burned, as did the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, a Kmart store, a McDonald's, an Arby's, an Applebee's and a Mountain Mike's Pizza".

The massive fire rekindled memories for longtime Napa Valley residents of the 1981 Atlas Peak wildfire.

Multiple fires broke out Sunday night as strong winds buffeted the area. Officials are predicting gusty winds and dry conditions.

Patients at a healing center in Sonoma County must be cleared as the blasts seethed on.

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The fires had stretched Sonoma and Napa counties firefighting resources to the breaking point. North winds were forecast to gust to 30 miles per hour through the day Monday before shifting to the south and diminishing by afternoon. Emergency lines were inundated with callers reporting smoke in the area.

Health officials say wildfires can exacerbate chronic health problems such as asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

Belia Ramos, chairwoman of the Napa County Board of Supervisors, said officials did not yet have a count on how many properties were affected, either by the fire directly or by evacuations. Smoke from the fires spread throughout the Bay Area. The fire is believed to have begun late Sunday night near Highway 128 in Napa County and progressed toward Santa Rosa city limits.

A smoke advisory was issued Monday for the San Francisco Bay Area as the result of massive wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties.

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