Wildfires like infernos devastated large areas in California killing at least 17

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An estimated 2,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged. The two biggest and most destructive fires consumed more than 52,000 acres in Napa and Sonoma Counties, threatening cities that included Santa Rosa, Napa and Calistoga. In Sonoma County alone, 5,000 people took shelter in evacuation centers on Monday night. “A gigantic fireball jumped across the freeway to the trees around the trailer park” a witness who evacuated said. Propane tanks exploded on the properties all around. Across the state, 17 large wildfires were still burning Tuesday, covering 115,000 acres.

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Most of the current California wildfires are in the north, including a large one in Mendocino County and several others in the Sierra Nevada, the north coast and the San Joaquin Valley. Fire crews used bulldozers, chain saws and shovels to clear trees and brush, hoping to create fire breaks. Helicopters and a Boeing 747 tanker dropped water permanently. Firefighters were also contending with strong winds fueling the flames. Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency in the affected counties, which include Napa and Sonoma, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to the state’s request for federal funds to help.

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