Sheriff Calls It One of the Worst Disasters in California's History

October 10, 2017Oct 10, 2017

Wildfires continue to rage in Northern California. The area is being devastated with at least 2,000 buildings destroyed and 20,000 residents evacuated, reported ABC News. 

Sadly, at this time, 17 people have died. Another 183 people are still reported missing in Sonoma County.

170 patients are being treated for fire-related injuries said St. Joseph Health. Many are being treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

Firefighters continue to battle dozens of fires. The fires, intensified by strong winds, have burnt over 115,000 acres of land.

"The night before this, we had 60 mph winds, which is the reason why you have such devastation here," said Sonoma County Sgt. Spencer Crum.

“Personally, I think this will be one of the worst natural disasters in California history," said Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano on Tuesday evening during a town hall in Santa Rosa, California.

Officials with the California Highway Patrol revealed how one of the 17 people died. According to San Francisco’s KGO, an elderly blind woman was found dead in her driveway. She was apparently trying to escape the flames when she died. Details have not been released on the other victims.

On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties. President Trump also approved a disaster declaration that would give the state federal aid.

20,000 people have evacuated, including some area hospitals. Even in areas where fires appear to be out, residents have been warned to not return to their homes.

ABC News related the stories of two men. They described their experience with the raging fires.

Jeff Okrepkie, a resident of Santa Rosa, left his home of fives years aware that he might never see it standing again. He and his wife tried to gather their most precious things, but they know they left things behind.

"All that good stuff, I'm never going to see it again," he told KGO on Monday.

Another man, Mike Turpen, 38, was at a bar in the Sonoma County when a man wearing a smoke mask ran into the bar and yelled “Fire!”

Turpen reacted by driving through the flames in his pickup truck to try to save his home. He said the fire was “like Armageddon was on.”

He added, "Every branch of every tree was on fire."

His yard was scorched and burning in some places. Fortunately, he was able to keep his home from burning down.

"We have a lot of rebuilding here," said Sonoma County Sergeant Crum.

Please pray for California as they deal with this fire and as they rebuild. Also, please pray for all those who have lost loved ones or homes in the fire.

In other news, designer and model Georgina Chapman announced Tuesday that she's leaving her husband after sexual misconduct allegations. 

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