The death toll continues to rise because of the California wildfires currently scorching across wine country. With 23 dead and hundreds missing, the fires are labeled as a “serious critical catastrophic event” complete with power grid failures.
The wind known as the Diablo is picking up again, the air is dry, there is no rain in sight and the killer wildfires that have scorched the wine country of Northern California remain almost completely uncontained. Officials warned Wednesday that some of the big fires could merge making them almost impossible to contain. While thousands have been told to evacuate or prepare to leave their homes, hundreds are missing and 23 are dead.
There’s now also a probable link between the wildfires and the power grid failure. The huge utility company PG&E acknowledged that the extreme winds late Sunday and early Monday had knocked trees into power lines in conditions conducive to wildfires. “The historic wind event that swept across PG&E’s service area late Sunday and early Monday packed hurricane-strength winds in excess of 75 mph in some cases,” said Ari Vanrenen, a PG&E spokeswoman, in a statement released after the San Jose Mercury News first reported on a possible link between the wildfires and the power grid. “These destructive winds, along with millions of trees weakened by years of drought and recent renewed vegetation growth from winter storms, all contributed to some trees, branches, and debris impacting our electric lines across the North Bay,” she said.
Officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said they have yet to determine the cause of the fires, which have killed at least 23 people in Napa, Sonoma, Yuba and Mendocino counties. Statewide, 8,000 firefighters are working to contain 22 wildfires that cover 170,000 acres — a collective area larger than the city of Chicago. The worst of the fires are in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties, where 4,500 homes and businesses had been burned at last count.
The Atlas Fire and the Tubbs fire, which ravaged a Santa Rosa neighborhood, are both a mere 3% contained. There seems to be little good news for those who have been affected by these fires. If you would like to donate to those in the path of these fires, here are a few suggestions:
Donate to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund. The fund is overseen by the Community Foundation of Sonoma County and pledges to “focus on the mid- to long-term tasks of recovery and rebuilding, which will include basic needs as well as longer term economic, health and social supports.”
Donations can also be made to the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund.
Donations for both Lake County and Mendocino County are being coordinated by the Savings Bank of Mendocino County.