Firefighters in the state of California were battling new, devastating fires in the wine country, north of San Francisco when strong winds ignited flames in an already badly burned state.
New fires broke out in the famous Napa-Sonoma wine region and northern California’s Shasta County on Sunday, resulting in hasty evacuations from the neighbourhoods.
The fire, called a Glass Fire, broke out near Calistoga, about 100 kilometers north of San Francisco, on Sunday morning and was blown by dry winds through the area’s famous vineyards. More than a thousand firefighters put out the flames, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
In wine country, fire engulfed Chateau Boswell’s signature winery north of St. Helena, Black Rock Inn in the small community of St. Helena and many homes in the city of Santa Rosa, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The residents of a nursing home are among the evacuees.
Adventist Health St. Helena has suspended treatment and moved all patients to another location, its website said.
According to Cal Fire, the wine country fire burned 44 square kilometers Monday morning.
In California alone, wildfires have burned an estimated 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) to date, more than a year in the state’s history. From August 15, fires in the state had killed 26 people and destroyed more than 7,000 buildings.
New evacuation orders were issued in the districts of Sonoma and Napa on Monday, including parts of Santa Rosa and St. Helena.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag alert which stayed through Monday morning predicting low humidity and wind gusts of up to 89 km/h through certain canyons.
Numerous studies in recent years have linked major forest fires in America to global warming caused by burning coal, oil, and gas, mainly because climate change has dried up California. Dry California means plants burn more easily.
Evacuations have also been ordered in Shasta County as this fire, called the Zogg Fire, is spreading.The causes of the two new fires are being investigated.
Over the weekend, energy company Pacific Gas & Electric cut off power in the target area where the wind increased the potential for arcs or other damage to the power system that could cause new fires.
So far this year, more than 8,100 fires in California have burned 14,970 square kilometers, destroyed more than 7,000 buildings and killed 26 people.
It is also hot, dry and windy in parts of Arizona, where the Sears Fire in the Tonto National Forest north of Phoenix has risen to more than 36 square kilometers since erupting on Friday afternoon.