15 Dead, Over 2,000 Buildings Destroyed in California Wine Country Wildfires

In neighborhood after neighborhood, all that remains are the smoldering ashes and eye-stinging smoke from a day of utter devastation.

Newly homeless residents of California wine country took stock of their shattered lives Tuesday, a day after wildfires killed at least 15 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses. Hundreds more firefighters joined the battle against the blazes, which were still completely uncontained.

Authorities also began to identify the dead, including a 100-year-old man and his 98-year-old wife who died in their burning home.

A thick, smoky haze cloaked much of Napa and Sonoma counties, where neighborhoods hit by the fires were completely leveled. In the Santa Rosa suburb known as Coffey Park, house after house was gone with only brick chimneys still standing. The flames burned so hot that windows and tire rims melted off cars, leaving many parked vehicles sitting on their steel axles. The only recognizable remnants at many homes were charred washing machines and dryers.

Officials hoped cooler weather and lighter winds would help crews get a handle on 17 separate fires, which are among the deadliest in California history.

“The weather has been working in our favor, but it doesn’t mean it will stay that way,” said Brad Alexander, a spokesman of the governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Source: Associated Press