California wildfires kill at least 31 as wind continues to fan flames

SONOMA, Calif. (Reuters) - Firefighters face another round of dry, windy conditions on Friday as they battle wildfires that have killed at least 31 people in Northern California and left hundreds missing in the heart of wine country.

The most lethal wildfire event in California's history has killed people while they sleep in their beds and prompted authorities to evacuate thousands of residents, warning anyone deciding to wait it out: "You are on your own."

The toll from the more than 20 fires raging across eight counties could climb, with more than 400 people in Sonoma County alone still listed as missing.

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Devastating wildfires ravage California's wine country
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Devastating wildfires ravage California's wine country
SANTA ROSA, CA - OCTOBER 09: Burned lawn chairs sit next to the swimming pool at the Journey's End Mobile Home Park on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: Fire consumes a barn as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
YOUNTVILLE, CA - OCTOBER 09: A Los Angeles County firefighter monitors approching flames near a building as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on October 9, 2017 in Yountville, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NAPA, CA - OCTOBER 09: Burned out wine bottles sit on a rack at the fire damaged Signarello Estate winery after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Napa, California. Tens of thousands of acres and hundreds of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SONOMA, CA - OCTOBER 09: A burned out home sits next a vineyard after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Sonoma, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NAPA, CA - OCTOBER 09: The remains of the fire daaged Signarello Estate winery after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Napa, California. Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: A resident rushes to save his home as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: A resident rushes to save his home as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A burned home smolders in Glen Ellen, California on October 9, 2017. Multiple wind-driven fires continue to ravage the area burning structures and causing widespread evacuations. / AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: The remains of fire damaged homes after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: Fire consumes a barn as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: Fire consumes a home as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: The remains of fire damaged homes after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: A resident rushes to save his home as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: Cows stand on a patch of unburned grass after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: Burned cars sit idle after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: Fire consumes a home as an out of control wildfire move through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: Fire consumes a home as an out of control wildfire move through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: The remains of fire damaged homes after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: Flames consume a home as an out of control wildfire move through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: Flames consume a home as an out of control wildfire move through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: Fire consumes a home as an out of control wildfire move through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: The remains of fire damaged homes after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
An aerial photo of the devastation left behind from the North Bay wildfires north of San Francisco, California, October 9, 2017. California Highway Patrol/Golden Gate Division/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
An aerial photo of the devastation left behind from the North Bay wildfires north of San Francisco, California, October 9, 2017. California Highway Patrol/Golden Gate Division/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
A burned home smolders in Glen Ellen, California on October 9, 2017. Multiple wind-driven fires continue to ravage the area burning structures and causing widespread evacuations. / AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A garage door is left standing in front of a smoldering home in Glen Ellen, California on October 9, 2017. Multiple wind-driven fires continue to ravage the area burning structures and causing widespread evacuations. / AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A gas line spews flames at a burned out property in Glen Ellen, California on October 9, 2017. Multiple wind-driven fires continue to ravage the area burning structures and causing widespread evacuations. / AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
YOUNTVILLE, CA - OCTOBER 09: A Napa Valley public worker sprays water on a building as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on October 9, 2017 in Yountville, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
YOUNTVILLE, CA - OCTOBER 09: A Los Angeles County firefighter monitors approching flames near a building as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on October 9, 2017 in Yountville, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NAPA, CA - OCTOBER 09: Fire burns a trailer and parking structure as an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Napa, California. Tens of thousands of acres and hundreds of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NAPA, CA - OCTOBER 09: The remains of the fire damaged Signarello Estate winery after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Napa, California. Tens of thousands of acres and hundreds of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NAPA, CA - OCTOBER 09: The remains of the fire damaged Signarello Estate winery after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Napa, California. Tens of thousands of acres and hundreds of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NAPA, CA - OCTOBER 09: The remains of the fire damaged Signarello Estate winery after an out of control wildfire moved through the area on October 9, 2017 in Napa, California. Tens of thousands of acres and hundreds of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CALIFORNIA, USA - OCTOBER 10: A view of a warning banner in San Francisco as a wildfire from the Santa Rosa and Napa Valley moves through the area in California, United States on October 10, 2017. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CALIFORNIA, USA - OCTOBER 10: Smoke rises as a wildfire from the Santa Rosa and Napa Valley moves through the area in California, United States on October 10, 2017. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CALIFORNIA, USA - OCTOBER 10: A view of a San Francisco gulf as smoke covers the sun as a wildfire from the Santa Rosa and Napa Valley moves through the area in California, United States on October 10, 2017. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CALIFORNIA, USA - OCTOBER 10: A view of a San Francisco gulf as smoke covers the sun as a wildfire from the Santa Rosa and Napa Valley moves through the area in California, United States on October 10, 2017. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SANTA ROSA, CA - OCTOBER 09: Burned out cars sit next to a building on fire in a fire ravaged neighborhood on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CALIFORNIA, USA - OCTOBER 10: A view of a San Francisco gulf as smoke covers the sun as a wildfire from the Santa Rosa and Napa Valley moves through the area in California, United States on October 10, 2017. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SANTA ROSA, CA - OCTOBER 09: A resident goes through personal belongings in a parking lot next to a fire damaged Arby's restaurant on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SANTA ROSA, CA - OCTOBER 09: Flames consume a section of the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SANTA ROSA, CA - OCTOBER 09: Burned out cars sit next to a building on fire in a fire ravaged neighborhood on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SANTA ROSA, CA - OCTOBER 09: Smoke continues to rise from the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SONOMA, CA - OCTOBER 09: An out of control wildfire approaches Gundlach Bundschu winery on October 9, 2017 in Sonoma, California. Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
An aerial shows damage caused by wildfires in Santa Rosa, California, U.S October 11, 2017. Picture taken October 11, 2017. REUTERS/DroneBase TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
An American flag hangs from a tree in a neighborhood destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Area residents walk through a neighborhood destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Wine stains are seen on a fermentation tank at Paradise Ridge Winery after being destroyed by the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) trucks are seen parked on a road between homes destroyed by the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 11, 2017. Picture taken October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A wildfire is shown from the air near Atlas Road during an operation to rescue people trapped by wildfire in Napa, California, U.S., October 9, 2017. Photo taken October 9, 2017. Courtesy California Highway Patrol/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A burnt tree stands amidst the destroyed Journey's End Mobile Home Park during the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Smoke and flame rise from the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country during the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
An aerial view of properties destroyed by the Tubbs Fire is seen in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NAPA, CA -OCTOBER 12: Flowers mark the spot where his father died as Mike Rippey walks through the ruins of the house of 100-year-old Charles and 98-year-old Sara Rippey, who were killed in the Atlas Fire just after it began, on October 12, 2017 near Napa, California. Thousands homes have burned and two dozen people have been confirmed dead so far as numerous wildfires continue to spread in eight Northern California counties. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SANTA ROSA, CA - OCTOBER 11: An aerial view of homes that were destroyed by the Tubbs Fire on October 11, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Twenty one people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 3,000 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SANTA ROSA, CA -OCTOBER 10: A toy car is left scorched in a neighborhood destroyed by fire near Cardinal Newman High School on October 10, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. In one of the worst wildfires in state history, at least 1,500 homes have burned and 11 people have died as more than 14 wildfires continue to spread in eight Northern California counties. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
GLEN ELLEN, CA - OCTOBER 09: A resident rushes to save his home as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on October 9, 2017 in Glen Ellen, California. Tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes and businesses have burned in widespread wildfires that are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Homeowner Phil Rush looks at the remains of his home destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa, California, on October 11, 2017. Rush said he and his wife and dog escaped with only their medication, a bag of dog food when flames overtook their entire neighborhood on October 9. The toll from Northern California's ranging wildfires continued to grow as officials said the fires destroyed up to 2,000 structures and killed at least 17 people. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
NAPA, CA -OCTOBER 11: The body of a cow that died in the Atlas Fire is seen in Soda Canyon on October 11, 2017 near Napa, California. In one of the worst wildfires in state history, more than 2,000 homes have burned and at least 21 people have been killed as more than 14 wildfires continue to spread with little containment in eight Northern California counties. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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Winds of up to 60 mph (100 kph) and humidity of just 10 percent will create "critical fire weather conditions" and "contribute to extreme fire behavior" on Friday afternoon and into Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

A force of 8,000 firefighters is working to reinforce and extend buffer lines across the region where the flames have scorched more than 190,000 acres (77,000 hectares), an area nearly the size of New York City.

With 3,500 homes and businesses incinerated, the so-called North Bay fires have reduced whole neighborhoods in the city of Santa Rosa to smoldering ruins dotted with charred trees and burned-out cars.

The cause of the disaster is under investigation, but officials said power lines toppled by gale-force winds on Sunday night may have sparked it.

The Napa Valley town of Calistoga faces one of the biggest threats and its 5,000-plus residents were ordered from their homes as winds picked up and fire crept closer.

Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning said anyone refusing to heed the mandatory evacuation would be left to fend for themselves if fire approached, warning on Thursday: "You are on your own."

Sonoma County accounted for 17 of the North Bay fatalities, all from the Tubbs fire, which now ranks as California's deadliest single wildfire since 2003.

Some people killed were asleep when flames engulfed their homes, fire officials said. Others had only minutes to escape as winds fanned fast-moving blazes.

Mark Ghilarducci, state director of emergency services, said the loss of cell towers likely contributed to difficulties in warning residents.

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Satellite images of California's wildfires
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Satellite images of California's wildfires

Photo Credit: Copyright DigitalGlobe

Photo Credit: Copyright DigitalGlobe

Photo Credit: Copyright DigitalGlobe

Photo Credit: Copyright DigitalGlobe

Photo Credit: Copyright DigitalGlobe

Photo Credit: Copyright DigitalGlobe

Photo Credit: Copyright DigitalGlobe

Photo Credit: Copyright DigitalGlobe

Photo Credit: Copyright DigitalGlobe

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As many as 900 missing-person reports have been filed in Sonoma County and 437 have since turned up safe. It remains unclear how many of the 463 still unaccounted for are fire victims rather than evacuees who failed to alert authorities, Ghilarducci said.

The fires struck the heart of the world-renowned wine-producing region, wreaking havoc on its tourist industry and damaging or destroying at least 13 Napa Valley wineries.

California's newly legalized marijuana industry also was hit hard, with at least 20 pot farms in Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa counties ravaged, said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association.

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