SEE ALSO: How California's firestorm spread so mind-bogglingly fast: From'Diablo' winds to climate trends Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa, California is just one of the dozens of wineries that was ravaged by the massive fires. A pool of wine boils beneath debris from the fire at Paradise Ridge Winery. Charred fermentation tanks drip wine at a destroyed Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa. Paradise Ridge Winery owner Sonia Byck-Barwick told CNN the property is completely burned, and all of the grapes they had picked for the season have been lost.
Wildfires continue to burn up and down the state of California, with the most damaging blazes located in the picturesque Napa and Sonoma Valley region, about 60 miles north of San Francisco. This area has seen at least 3,500 homes and businesses destroyed, including entire wineries, since the fires exploded in size amid a fierce windstorm on Sunday night and Monday. The number of fatalities continues to climb, with the figure standing at 17 on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday, forecasters hoisted dreaded red flag warnings for critical fire weather conditions across Napa and Sonoma Counties, particularly in higher elevations, where winds could gust as high as 55 miles per hour by Wednesday evening. The wind gusts, coming from the north, will follow the passage of a weak front moving across the San Francisco Bay Area.
The firestorm that engulfed large parts of Napa and Sonoma Counties in California on Monday will go down in history as one of the worst such events ever recorded in the Golden State. By the end of the day on Monday, at least 13 people had been killed, 1,500 or more structures destroyed, and hundreds injured by flames that moved so quickly one hospital had to evacuate patients using nurses' own cars, rather than wait for ambulances to arrive. The fires show yet again how cruel nature is when the right combination of ingredients come together. SEE ALSO: July ties record for warmest month on Earth, but I'm sure we have nothing to worry about On top of these background conditions, there was a unique combination of weather conditions in place on Sunday night and Monday that ensured that virtually any fire that started would spread rapidly and unpredictably. In addition, operating just behind the scenes, like a puppeteer hiding in the shadows, is climate change, which is tilting the odds in favor of extreme heat events and larger fires, even as other factors -- such as the buildup of sprawling suburbs close to forested areas -- make us more vulnerable to damaging fires.
Firefighters increased containment around a fast-moving wildfire in Butte County, just south of the lake. The blaze prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to issue a state of emergency after flames destroyed 17 structures and threatened 5,400 more on Sunday. On the Central Coast, two blazes burning in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have forced nearly 8,000 people to flee as flames gutted more than two dozen structures. Both fires continued to spread overnight, even as helicopters worked overtime making water drops at night, said Andrew Madsen, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. As humidity hovers between 10% and 20%, northerly wind gusts of 40 to 45 mph will sweep across the Santa Barbara County mountains and along the southern coast, "leading to several hours of critical fire weather conditions," the weather service said.
A car and house are engulfed in flames as the "Wall Fire" burns through a residential area in Oroville, California on July 8, 2017. A car and house are engulfed in flames as the "Wall Fire" burns through a residential area in Oroville, California on July 8, 2017. The California fire season exploded into view this weekend, with a series of big blazes. Wildfires forced nearly 8,000 people to dash for safety Sunday as flames destroyed homes and threatened thousands of structures across the state. The fires were so big they could be seen from airplanes and satellites.