The wildfires in California have now claimed at least 21 lives. Here’s what we know as of Wednesday evening:
- In addition to the dead, 285 people are missing. That’s down from 600 reported earlier.
- The 22 fires have burned 170,000 acres, primarily in the wine country of Northern California.
- 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed.
- 8.000 firefighters are trying to contain the North Bay fires.
- Smoky conditions forced the cancellation of 80 flights out of San Francisco International Airport and delayed 25 percent of all flights. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Dry, windy conditions are forecast to persist in much of the area, which will spread the blazes even more.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that power lines downed by high winds may have sparked a number of the fires.
- Officials had to dispel a rumor that evacuees were required to reveal their immigration status at shelters.
- This is every bit as bad as the hurricanes that have struck in recent weeks. Let’s hope the charitable donations reflect that.
- FEMA has already started setting up the groundwork for the recovery effort, but the fires have to be contained first.
- Ready for the biggest first-world problem ever? USA Today reports that smoke from the fires could affect the taste of your wine.