In images, in picturesSome 34,000 people were ordered to evacuate on Monday and 14,000 more were to be ready.
Fanned by strong winds, fires devastated, Monday, September 28, the vineyards of Napa Valley in northwestern California, in the grip of a new heat wave and where tens of thousands of people had to evacuate their homes in the middle of the night. Further north, in a wooded and rugged area of Shasta County, the Zogg Fire, which also broke out on Sunday, killed three people and continued to spread Monday evening.
Wineries gone up in smoke
Glowing skies, charred trees and vines, houses ravaged by flames: the blaze named Glass Fire, which broke out on Sunday, devoured, according to firefighters, nearly 4,500 hectares in Napa County, one of the production areas most prestigious wine of the United States.
Some wineries have gone up in smoke, such as Chateau Boswell in the town of St. Helena. The Newton Vineyard estate, which belongs to the LVMH group, was also affected. “As the Glass Fire continues to spread, it is with sadness that we inform you that the Newton Estate estate and vines have been significantly affected”, announced the domain on its Instagram account, noting that all employees were able to be sheltered in time.
34,000 people evacuated
Some 34,000 people were ordered to evacuate on Monday and 14,000 more were to be ready. In the middle of the night, 4,500 residents of a residential area for the elderly in wine-growing Sonoma County, neighboring Napa County and threatened by another fire called Shady Fire, had to board municipal buses in order to be transported to safe place.
Many residents of the St. Helena area, traumatized by the fires that have already ravaged the area in recent years, have also left in disarray in the dark. The counties of Napa and Sonoma had already been struck by devastating fires in 2017, killing a total of 44 people and destroying several thousand buildings.
Heat wave and dry winds
The weather services had hoisted the “Red flag” for the fire risk in this part of California due to a heat wave and dry winds creating the ideal conditions for fires to start. “These winds will start to weaken in the afternoon and stabilize, which should help us in our efforts”, said Governor Gavin Newsom, calling on the population to be cautious and to strictly follow the instructions of the emergency services. More than 1,000 firefighters, aided by helicopters and water bombers, battled the Glass Fire, which was not contained on Monday.
In northeastern California, Butte County, already heavily affected by multiple fires since mid-August, was forced to implement new evacuations on Sunday evening near the small town of Paradise. The region was ravaged by one of the deadliest fires in state history, Camp Fire, which killed 86 people in November 2018.
26 dead since August 15
More than 8,100 fires have occurred since the start of the season, covering 1.5 million hectares in total, California firefighters said. Since August 15, the flames have killed 26 people and destroyed more than 7,000 buildings.
According to scientific consensus, the exceptional scale of these fires is linked to climate change, which exacerbates chronic drought and causes extreme weather conditions.