North America

California fires death toll rises to 10

AT least 10 people are dead after more than a dozen wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through California wine country.

Authorities said the blaze destroyed 1500 homes and businesses, sending thousands fleeing as flames raged unchecked through high-end resorts, grocery stores and tree-lined neighbourhoods.

As he fled through the ember-strewn streets of his neighbourhood in Santa Rosa, Jeff Okrepkie knew it was probably the last time he would see his home of the past five years standing.

His worst fears were confirmed on Monday morning, when a friend sent him a photo of what was left: a smouldering heap of burnt metal and debris.

“We live in the valley, where it’s concrete and strip malls and hotels and supermarkets,” Okrepkie said. “The last thing you think is a forest fire is going to come and wipe us out.”

“It was an inferno like you’ve never seen before,” said Marian Williams, who caravanned with neighbours before dawn as one of the wildfires reached the vineyar…

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