California wildfire destroys over 550 homes as fire crews increase containment, ‘turned the corner’
“We have turned the corner on the fire as a whole,” Cal Fire division chief Ben Nicholls said during a briefing in Sonoma County.
Over 2,700 fire personnel are involved in the battle against the blaze, with some 408 fire engines deployed in the fight against the two-county blaze, according to the agency.
“We are the priority for the state here,” Nicholls said Monday.
The blaze has destroyed some 553 homes, with 297 in Sonoma County and 256 in Napa County that have been lost so far. The wildfire is still threatening over 21,000 structures, according to fire officials.
The wildfire has also damaged or destroyed at least 18 wineries, with many locations reporting major damage.
“We have a little half an acre here that got pretty scorched,” Lisa Drinkward of Behrens Family Winery told KTVU.
Nearly 3,000 people remain under mandatory evacuation orders in Sonoma County, while 13,000 are under warnings and may need to leave if told to, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state’s 313 fire crews continue to make significant progress against fires burning in the state as forecasters are calling for rain in the northern part of the state by the end of the week.
“We are finally getting our arms around it,” the governor said.
There are still 23 major wildfires burning across the state, which has seen more than 4 million acres scorched so far in 2020.
Virtually all the damage has occurred since mid-August when five of the six largest fires in state history erupted. Lightning strikes caused some of the most devastating blazes, with many burning in largely unpopulated land.
Newsom said the amount of land scorched by the August Complex that’s burned over 1 million acres is larger than all the recorded fires in California between 1932 and 1999.
The wildfires this year have incinerated at least 8,700 structures, many of them homes, from the San Bernardino National Forest east of Los Angeles to Napa Valley and up to the Oregon border. They have also killed 31 people.
Dry conditions continue for the western U.S. on Tuesday, which is not helping the wildfire danger across the region.
Air quality alerts are still in effect for parts of California, Oregon, and Colorado due to the smoke spreading from the current wildfires burning.
Fox News’ Janice Dean and the Associated Press contributed to this report.