SONOMA (AP) – Authorities say they expect fatalities after 14 fast-moving wildfires destroyed more than 1,500 homes, department stores, hotels and other commercial structures in Northern California.
The state’s top fire officials said Monday that firefighters have focused on evacuating residents and saving lives rather than battling the blaze and protecting buildings.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott said fatalities are expected, but the fires are still out of control and it’s difficult for authorities to assess the damage done and the number of people hurt and killed.
He said about 50,000 people are without power.
October is typically the most dangerous time for fires in the state. He said there have been 1,500 more wildfires this year than last year at this time.
The California Highway Patrol says numerous roads are closed in the fire region, which is an eight-county swath of wine country north of San Francisco.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.