Evacuations as Wildfire Roars Through California Wine Country

Geyserville, United States, Oct 24 (AFP/APP): A fast-moving wildfire roared through California wine country early Thursday, prompting evacuations and threatening homes as authorities warned of the imminent danger of more fires across much of the state.

The Kincade fire in a rural area of Sonoma County kicked up Wednesday night, quickly growing from a blaze of a few hundred acres into an uncontained 10,000-acre (4,000-hectare) inferno, California fire and law enforcement officials said.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for the town of Geyserville after the fire crossed a highway and moved towards homes, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said. “If you’re in Geyserville, leave now,” the sheriff’s office advised, citing an extraordinary threat to life and property.

Winds out of the north were driving the fire south as firefighters worked through the night to evacuate residents and protect structures. “This fire is moving fast, please pay attention to evacuation orders,” state Senator Mike McGuire said on his Twitter account.

The fire — 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of San Francisco — came amid official warnings that much of northern California and parts of the south were under imminent threat of fires into Friday because of blustery, dry weather.

Power was cut to some 180,000 customers in the northern part of the state Thursday and similar preemptive shutoffs affected thousands of customers further south because of conditions that are ripe for wildfires. Power companies warned that additional power cuts could be ordered to reduce the risk of accidental fires.

The strong winds in the north were expected to subside Friday but are forecast to pick up again on Sunday, the National Weather Service warned.

In southern California, several wildfires were burning in the Los Angeles area on Thursday, and there was at least one fire near Pendleton, in San Diego County. A fire in San Bernardino County, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, prompted evacuation orders as it grew to about 100 acres.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department said the blaze had the potential to spread widely. This week’s fires have erupted as the state is still recovering from deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that killed more than 100 people. The fires have been fueled by years of drought and dry vegetation as well as high winds.

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