SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Three separate fires ravaged California’s wine country late Sunday and into Monday, and many heartbreaking images are emerging from the widespread devastation.
One resident said, “I just saw flames all up on the hill behind my house.”
Wind-whipped wildfires fanned flames as fast as they were fierce.
James Cook, the manager at Journey’s End Mobile Home Park in Santa Rosa, said, “It looks like a bomb went off. There’s nothing left of it.”
The sudden firestorm charred neighborhoods across wine country and flames came so quickly and so close that some residents were burned as they rushed to leave their homes.
The fast-moving fire devoured hundreds of homes and businesses.
“Panic-stricken. It’s just so scary,” said one homeowner.
Firefighters were forced to let some structures burn to save others.
Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said, “We had deputies pinned down with civilians. They couldn’t get out, and the fire just went around them, so it’s been quite harrowing for them.”
In Santa Rosa, the fire ripped through the heart of the city. Patients were evacuated from two hospitals as the blaze inched closer, while flames destroyed a mobile home retirement community and badly damaged a Hilton hotel along with the Cardinal Newman High School, a well-known Catholic school built in 1964.
Cal Fire Director Chief Ken Pimlott said, “I think we’ve raised the bar again in California in terms of the conditions that we’re facing and the destruction and devastation.”
“It’s unbelievable,” said a man who lost home in the fire.
So far, 11 people have been killed in total. There are more than 100 people who have been hospitalized with fire-related injuries. This firestorm is being deemed one of the worst in California history.