Raging wildfires continued to ravage California's wine country on Monday, killing at least 10 people and forcing fire fighters to evacuate thousands of residents. The 4,700 in-state wineries produce 85% of American wine and 97% of national exports, and the Napa and Sonoma Valleys are where much of the finest wines are made, according to the institute. Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said that fire was burning "at explosive rates".
"I can't shake hearing people scream in terror as the flames barreled down on us", Lowry said. At least 1500 commercial, residential and industrial structures were burnt, Mr Cox said, although details of the extent of the damage remained scarce.
The blazes are sweeping through one of the state's most scenic and treasured destinations, threatening the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.
Marian Williams of Kenwood, in Sonoma County, told NBC Bay Area she joined a convoy of neighbors driving through the flames before dawn as one of the fires reached the area's vineyards.
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Intensified by strong winds, the fires charred over 115,000 acres of land, destroyed at least 2,000 buildings and forced almost 20,000 residents to evacuate. As of Monday evening, the fire was zero percent contained, officials said.
"We have a lot of rebuilding here", Crum said.
Santa Rosa, the county seat and the largest city in Sonoma County of California, took the hardest hit, where Sonoma County Sheriff's officials said seven people have been killed in the wildfires.
Emergency lines were inundated with callers reporting smoke, prompting officials to ask that the public "only use 911 if they see actual unattended flames, or are having another emergency".
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Residents who gathered at emergency shelters and grocery stores said they were shocked by the speed and ferocity of the flames.
Santa Rosa's Coffey Park neighborhood, for example, was incinerated past the point of recognition, and some residents who've been allowed to return can't even find their former homes in the ashes. Hundreds of homes of all sizes were leveled by flames so hot they melted the glass off of cars and turned aluminum wheels into liquid. They were unable to evacuate their home in time. He said the power went out around 1 a.m., and he and his colleagues started packing up when someone knocked on the door and told them to run.
The fires, which began Sunday night, have already been characterized as "among the most destructive in state history".
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"It's going to be a waiting game to see, when it's all said and done, what the impact is, but we're not just talking about the vines". "I barely have left the house under safety advisement, which in the downtown has been to stay put and watch for evacuation notices", he says.