MIDDLETOWN (CBS/AP/BCN) — One person reportedly died in a wildfire in Lake and Napa counties that exploded in size within hours Saturday, and had burned 50,000 acres by Sunday evening.
“We’re looking at possibly in this area, hundreds of homes, up to a thousand homes destroyed,” Cal Fire Captain Richard Cordova said.
There was no official count yet because firefighters are focused on new evacuation orders and the safety of residents.
Cal Fire Public Information Officer Daniel Berlant says wind gusts that reached up to 30 miles-per-hour sent embers raining down on homes in the Valley Fire.
Four fighters were injured Saturday.
The fire on Sunday prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to issue a state of emergency for Lake and Napa counties.
Brown said Sunday the declaration will expedite debris removal and waive fees to people who need to replace official documents lost in the fire.
Brown had earlier declared a state of emergency for the Butte Fire (see below), a separate 101-square-mile wildfire about 70 miles southeast of Sacramento that has destroyed 86 homes.
Cars leaving Middletown were dodging smoldering telephone poles and driving through billowing smoke on Sunday. Residents said there were burned buildings in downtown, but the heaviest damage was farther out, where homes and apartment complexes were destroyed.
Javier Negrete told The Associated Press that parts of Middletown have burned to the ground.
American Red Cross officials have set up a shelter at the Calistoga Fairgrounds and the officials are asking people to make donations to fire survivors at redcross.org.
Red Cross officials said they need volunteers, and cash donations after receiving a flood of food donations.
County officials said people are scamming survivors through social media by asking evacuees’ for their addresses.
Evacuees can register with the Red Cross at the “Safe and Well” website or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to let their families know they are safe.
Reporter Joe Vazquez tweeted video of the damage from the fire zone.
Teri Molini, who lives on the edge of town, said she started seeing flames within hours of having heard about the fire. She left with her pug and spent the night in Calistoga, about 17 miles away.
George Escalona said his home has burned and he’s left with nothing but the clothes he was wearing when he fled.
VALLEY FIRE: The Valley Fire that started in Lake County Saturday has now burned an estimated 50,000 acres and is zero percent contained as of Sunday morning, according to Cal Fire officials.
Four firefighters who were part of a helicopter crew were injured Saturday. The firefighters suffered second-degree burns, but are in stable condition at the UC Davis Medical Center, according to Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says people were ordered to evacuate Clear Lake Riviera, an area of about 3,000 residents.
The blaze with zero containment raced through several towns overnight after exploding in size within hours. An Associated Press photographer reported seeing dozens of homes destroyed and a roughly 40-unit apartment complex burned to the ground.
Cal Fire also says at least 5,000 people are without power. Several residents in Middletown say they also have no running water.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered in Lake County from state Highway 29 and state Highway 175 to Seigler Canyon Road and for state Highway 29 at state Highway 175 toward Cobb and Red Hills Road to state Highway 29.
More than 1,000 firefighters are fighting the fire and getting people evacuated from the area.
Evacuation centers have been set up at the Kelseyville Presbyterian Church in Kelseyville and Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga.
BUTTE FIRE: Firefighters have made gains in their efforts to corral a 101-square-mile wildfire about 70 miles southeast of Sacramento.
More than 4,000 firefighters are working to beat back the flames and crews increased containment to 20 percent by early Sunday. Mandatory evacuations remain in place.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Lynn Tolmachoff says at least 81 homes and 51 outbuildings have been destroyed in the Butte Fire burning in Amador and Calaveras counties.
Officials had earlier counted 86 homes destroyed, but issued the new figure early Sunday.
Authorities say the dry conditions, steep terrain and limited access to the flames are making for a challenging firefight.
Valley Fire: Wildfire Explodes to 40,000 Acres Overnight
Butte Fire: Firefighters Make Small Gains on Saturday
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