Nearly 500 Homes Destroyed by California Wildfires

Firebreak in Middletown, Calif._standard

This weekend, wildfires prompted the evacuation of thousands of homes along a 35-mile stretch of California’s Route 29, as a state of emergency was declared.

Nearly 500 homes were destroyed and at least one person died in two fires in northern California.

Adding to the loss of property, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials also counted two apartment complexes and 10 businesses destroyed by the flames, department spokeswoman Lynn Valentine said.

Valentine couldn’t provide details on the circumstances of the death.

Teri Molini, a Middletown, Calif. resident, said in an interview with the Associated Press, that she first got word of the fire Saturday afternoon and raced out of her house with the family dog, blankets, and mementos. Four hours later, she could see the flames from where she sought shelter.

“We said, ‘OK, this thing’s a beast,” Molini said.

Another area resident, Laura Streblow, evacuated Hidden Valley Lake with her boyfriend on Saturday night and was tracking developments on social media and through friends, told Reuters she had heard that “Middletown is basically gone.”

The 78-square-mile fire erupted Saturday afternoon and rapidly chewed through brush and trees parched from four years of drought. Entire towns as well as residents along a 35-mile stretch of State Route 29 were evacuated. Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday declared a state of emergency to free up resources.

Brown had already declared a state of emergency for a separate 102-square-mile wildfire about 70 miles southeast of Sacramento that has destroyed at least 81 homes and turned the grassy, tree-studded Sierra Nevada foothills an eerie white.

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SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor

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