Wildfires Latest: Santa Rosa Hospital Reopens

SANTA ROSA (AP) — The latest on the wildfires burning in California:

12:10 p.m.

Police have arrested a woman who they say stole credit cards and checkbooks from evacuees of the Northern California wildfires.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 31-year-old Katie Lehnhard of Petaluma was identified as a suspect after a fire victim reported to police that fraudulent charges had been made against her bank account.

Police say they conducted a search and found a stash of personal identification information belonging to Santa Rosa fire victims staying in a shelter.

Lynne Stark-Slater, chief deputy public defender for Sonoma County, said she does not know if Lehnhard has a lawyer.

Stark-Slater said she also is not certain if Lehnhard has been charged, as the Superior Court in Sonoma County has closed temporarily due to fires.

Tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes during the wildfires in wine country.

Police advised residents to make sure their vehicles are locked and to contact the U.S. Postal Service to redirect mail if they have lost their home.

10:30 a.m.

Smoke is descending into the coastal beach town of Santa Cruz from a fire that broke out late Monday, destroying four structures and injuring five firefighters.

Rob Sherman, division chief at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, says the fire in the Santa Cruz mountains has grown from 125 acres to 150 acres and was 5 percent contained.

About 150 homes have been evacuated and dozens of people are at two evacuation centers.

The state fire agency had previously said the cause was a house fire, but spokeswoman Angela Bernheisel says it’s unclear if the structure was a house.

Smoke is visible almost 20 miles (32 kilometers) away at the forested University of California at Santa Cruz campus. Officials issued a notice to students that if the situation becomes threatening they will issue an emergency alert.

9:45 a.m.

Santa Rosa’s Sutter Hospital has re-opened after evacuating nearly 80 patients a week ago within a frantic six hours as one of the wine country wildfires crept closer to the facility.

It was one of two hospitals to evacuate patients Oct. 9. The other facility was Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Rosa Medical Center, which evacuated 130 patients.

Firefighters have been using water from the hospital’s private water main, a system put in place during the 2014 construction of the facility for use in disasters.

The six underground water tanks were designed with earthquakes in mind, but the 500,000 gallons of water has helped fight fires this last week.

The facility re-opened Tuesday morning.

9:05 a.m.

Authorities say five firefighters have sustained minor injuries while battling a blaze that sprang up late Monday in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Rob Sherman, division chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, says a firefighter slipped several dozen feet down a ravine and has face lacerations and possible wrist fracture.

An inmate firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation, and three other firefighters slipped in steep terrain.

Sherman says the rugged terrain has been a challenge.

The fire is holding at 125 acres and evacuations of 150 homes are ongoing. The vegetation blaze was sparked by a house fire.

8:25 p.m.

Authorities say roughly 34,000 people remain evacuated from wildfires in Northern California that broke out a week ago.

The number is dramatically lower than a high of nearly 100,000 on Saturday in Sonoma, Napa and other counties.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the death toll remains at 41 with more than 5,700 homes and structures destroyed.

Elsewhere, about 150 households have been evacuated after a wildfire broke out in the Santa Cruz mountains in the southern San Francisco Bay Area.

7:30 a.m.

Two firefighters have been injured battling a blaze in California’s Santa Cruz mountains.

One firefighter was rescued after falling down a steep ravine and is being transported to a hospital. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Angela Bernheisel says the firefighter has a possible wrist fracture.

Another firefighter was treated earlier for smoke inhalation.

Authorities say the fire is holding at 125 acres and evacuations of 150 homes are ongoing. The vegetation blaze was sparked by a house fire.

In the state’s wine country to the north, firefighters are getting a handle on a number of wildfires that broke out about a week ago, killing at least 40 people and destroying thousands of buildings and homes.

6:59 a.m.

Northern California firefighters are battling a fire that sprang up overnight in the southern Bay Area Santa Cruz mountains, prompting evacuation orders.

Rob Sherman, assistant chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, tells KNTV news that at least one structure is destroyed and about 100 homes threatened.

Sherman said that a house fire is believed to have sparked the quick-spreading blaze.

Firefighters plan to attack the flames from air once the sun rises.

A cluster of wildfires have been burning in northern California for a week. The fires, the deadliest cluster in California history, have killed at least 41 people and destroyed nearly 6,000 homes.

6:40 a.m.

A week after fleeing wildfires, tens of thousands of Californians are drifting back into their neighborhoods.

Some will face the prospect of destroyed homes. All will face possible lasting emotional damage.

Mendocino County Supervisor Rob Brown said Monday that “it’s never going to be the same” for the 8,000 evacuees from his county allowed to return home.

Brown said they’ll have to seek a new normal after the destruction, displacement and devastation of the fires that destroyed nearly 6,000 homes and killed 41 people.

Officials in neighboring Sonoma County, which had the most death and destruction, said they have increasingly been getting calls from people worried about mentally coping with what’s happened.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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