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California declares emergency over wildfires

AFP / Share:
A back fire set by firefighters burns along a hillside during firefighting operations to battle the Kincade Fire in Healdsburg, California on October 26, 2019. AFP

HEALDSBURG, United States (AFP) – California’s governor declared a state-wide emergency on Sunday as a huge wind-fueled blaze forced evacuations and massive power blackouts, threatening towns in the famed Sonoma wine region.

The so-called Kincade Fire, north of San Francisco, has spread to 30,000 acres (12,000 hectares) and was only 10 percent contained by Sunday evening, state fire authorities said.

The blaze, the largest of more than a dozen wildfires burning throughout the state, has destroyed dozens of homes and wineries, including the iconic Soda Rock Winery built in 1869.

“We’ve seen the news. We are devastated,” the owners said in a Facebook message, adding that all staff at the winery – located in the town of Healdsburg, 70 miles north of San Francisco – are safe.

At least two hospitals in Santa Rosa – Kaiser Permanente Hospital and Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital – evacuated patients over the weekend to other hospitals.

The Kincade Fire – the most devastating in California this year – ignited Wednesday and spread quickly thanks to powerful wind gusts up to 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour).

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency on Sunday due to the “unprecedented” high winds that significantly raise the risk of fires.

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