In California, powerful winds and bone-dry conditions have fueled massive wildfires across the state, leaving at least 10 people dead, destroying whole neighborhoods and forcing 20,000 people to evacuate their homes. State fire officials say they’re battling at least 14 major fires in eight counties. One of the worst blazes was in the city of Santa Rosa in Northern California’s Sonoma County, where fire ripped through a trailer park, destroyed homes, restaurants and hotels, and forced medical teams at the Kaiser Permanente hospital to evacuate 130 patients as flames approached. This is Santa Rosa resident Dave Rollans.
Dave Rollans: “I mean, this is like apocalyptic, it seems. This is so out of the norm. Like, I’m from Southern California, and everything is dry out there, and I’m used to fires, but I’ve never seen anything like this in an urban area.”
Northern California hospitals report at least 170 people have sought medical treatment—mostly for smoke inhalation but also for burns. Meanwhile, another massive fire in Southern California’s Orange County spread across the Anaheim Hills Monday, forcing the evacuation of 5,000 homes. That blaze has scorched over 6,000 acres and is only about 5 percent contained. The wildfires come after the U.S. Forest Service warned last year that an unprecedented 5-year drought led to the deaths of more than 100 million trees in California, setting the stage for massive fires. Climate scientists believe human-caused global warming played a major role in the drought.