Fire crews fighting deadly California blazes welcome cool fog

SANTA ROSA, Calif., Oct 10 (Reuters) - Firefighters battling 15 wildfires that have killed at least 11 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings in California's wine country on welcomed a drop in winds and an expected layer of cool, moist fog rolling in on Tuesday.

Officials said about 1,500 homes and commercial buildings had been destroyed as tens of thousands of acres had gone up in flames since the weekend.

Videos and pictures circulated online showed pockets of devastation, including an entire residential neighborhood reduced to ashes, a Hilton hotel ablaze and an inferno that was previously a supermarket.

The fires were fanned by high temperatures and dry conditions, displacing some 20,000 residents, robbing others of power and forcing schools and at least two hospitals in Sonoma County to close.

RELATED: California wildfires rage over Disneyland

21 PHOTOS
California wildfires turn skies over Disneyland orange
See Gallery
California wildfires turn skies over Disneyland orange
Not the usual blue skies over #Disneyland today...feels eerie #fire #canyonfire2 #sleepingbeautycastle #smoke #disneylandresort
It's raining ash at Disneyland . . . #dca #disney #disneycaliforniaadventure #disneyland #fire #ash #sky
@Disneyland looking surreal with #canyonfire2 burning in the distance https://t.co/gaVpOrwXw1
My thoughts are with everyone affected by the fires in Anaheim Hills right now. This photo and video were taken by me, no filter used whatsoever.
#Canyon2Fire over #CaliforniaAdventure #Disneyland #abc7eyewitness #ktla #kcal #southerncalifornia #california #disneyland #anaheim #anaheimhills #smoky #photography #photographer #iphoneography #momentsbykerry.com #californiafireseason
Fire skies as seen at #Disney #dca #california #fire https://t.co/OzS5rXcczX
#Disneyland
#Canyon2Fire over #CaliforniaAdventure #Disneyland #abc7eyewitness #ktla #kcal #southerncalifornia #california #disneyland #anaheim #anaheimhills #smoky #photography #photographer #iphoneography #momentsbykerry.com #californiafireseason
The view from Disneyland of the #anaheimhills fire. https://t.co/S7adGlzxU5
Carbon Canyon Fire creating some seriously spooky spectating at Disney’s California Adventure! 🖤🎃 #NOFILTER
The fires in West Anaheim are making the park look real creepy #Matterhorn #Disneyland
Smoky skies over #Disneyland #fire https://t.co/rLoRr1lF2G
#Canyon2Fire over #CaliforniaAdventure #Disneyland #abc7eyewitness #ktla #kcal #southerncalifornia #california #disneyland #anaheim #anaheimhills #smoky #photography #photographer #iphoneography #momentsbykerry.com #californiafireseason
Disney’s California Adventure is on fire 🔥 https://t.co/xqZ2jbSMJM
🎼"Like Fire, Hellfire" • • • • • • • • • • • #disney #disneyland #fire #dragon #lego #nofilter #picoftheday #adventure #actor #actorslife #halloween #spooky #halloweentimeatdisneyland #nature #potd #followforfollow #goodevening
Forest fires causing the sky at Disneyland and DCA to be filled with smoke. Ash raining from the sky. https://t.co/oWWZPOTnx4
A bug eyes view from Bugs land . . . #disneycaliforniaadventure #disney #disneyland #dca #fire #sky
The sky makes me feel like I'm on another planet... Thoughts and prayers go out to anybody affected by the fire in Anaheim Hills. . . . . #disneyland #starwars #pathofthejedi #tomorrowland #disneyannualpassholder #disneylandap
There's a brush fire 🔥 in the area causing a red sun ☀️hope everyone is ok. #nofilter #california #disneyland #californiaadventure
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Steve Crawford, an operations chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said at a briefing for law enforcement and utility officials on Tuesday morning that a change in the weather could help firefighters.

"We need to jump on it and take advantage of this lull before any other wind jumps up," he said. "There's a lot of devastation out there, people running around who just lost everything. Keep that in mind. Maybe we're used to seeing fire and destruction but these people aren't."

In the wine country north of San Francisco, Sonoma County bore the brunt of the fatalities, with the sheriff's department confirming seven fire-related deaths. Two people died in Napa County and one in Mendocino County, officials said. An 11th death was reported in Yuba County, NBC News reported.

More than 100 people had been treated for fire-related injuries, including burns and smoke inhalation, CNN reported.

The status of the grape crop currently being harvested in Napa and Sonoma, where the largest fires burned, was unclear.

In addition to potential damage to vineyards from fire itself, experts say sustained exposure to heavy smoke can taint unpicked grapes.

Fred Oliai, 47, owner of the Alta Napa Valley Winery, said winemakers were nervous.

"You can't see anything," he said in a telephone interview. "The smoke is very dense." Oliai had not been able to get close enough to his vineyards to see if flames reached his 90-acre property. "We got our grapes in last week but others still have grapes hanging," he said.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and five other counties.

That included Orange County in Southern California, where a wildfire on Monday destroyed at least a half-dozen homes in the affluent Anaheim Hills neighborhood, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents, authorities said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved grants to help cover the cost of fighting 10 fires across the state, it said on Tuesday, without specifying the amounts. (Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Keith Coffman in Denver, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Gina Cherelus, Jonathan Allen and Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by John Stonestreet and Bill Trott)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.