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Saturday Updates: Northern California Wildfire Death Toll Rises To 40

Jae C. Hong / AP

Jae C. Hong / AP

Fire Numbers
101417 700pm Fire Numbers
Last updated Saturday, Oct. 14 7:07 p.m.

CAL FIRE Public Information Lines:

Solano, Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties: (707) 967-4207

Nevada, Yuba counties : (530) 823-4083

Mendocino County: (707) 467-6428 


Evacuation And Shelter Hotlines:

Butte County Fire Information Line: (530) 538-7826

Yuba County Fire Information Line: (530) 749-7700

Nevada County Fire Information Line: (530)265-1218


UPDATE 6:08 p.m.:  (AP) The death toll from wildfires burning in Northern California has reached 40.

Sonoma County announced Saturday evening that its coroner had confirmed two more deaths, taking the total in the county to 22 and the overall count to 40.

The toll had been 35 coming into Saturday, and it is expected to keep growing.



UPDATE 4:35 p.m.: Another death has been confirmed from the wildfires burning in Northern California, bringing the total to 38.

The Napa County Sheriff's Office announced two more deaths there on Saturday, taking their total to six. The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office says the 20th body in the county has been found in the city of Santa Rosa.

Those deaths take the toll to 38 for what was already the deadliest series of fires in California history.

No details were released on the dead, but it is likely the people were killed soon after the fires broke out nearly a week ago and their bodies were just discovered.

The increased presence of law enforcement officers to help people get out of homes has made the fire areas safer even as new flare-ups occur.

Authorities say they are sorting 300 unresolved missing persons reports, but they don't believe the death toll related to the wildfires will be anywhere near that number.

Napa County spokeswoman Molly Rattigan said investigators were trying to resolve 74 missing persons cases.

Sonoma County has about 220 unresolved missing person reports. Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Crum says most of the reports are from faraway friends and relatives, and the missing just hasn't reached out to them yet.

UPDATE 3 p.m.: California Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein say they have never seen a more destructive and deadly wildfire in their lifetime.

The comments from the longtime Californians come as they, along with U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, visit the fire zones on Saturday to meet with emergency responders and local residents.

Brown called the disaster "one of the greatest tragedies California has ever faced." He told residents the danger remains and urged them to evacuate when asked to do so. 


UPDATE 1:44 p.m.: (AP) - Even as crews make progress in fighting the deadly fires raging across Northern California, the scope of the toll continues to become clear.

State fire officials say they halted a wind-driven run of flames spreading into the city of Sonoma, but increased the number of confirmed deaths to 37.

Deputy state fire director Dave Teter said Saturday that a minimal number of structures were burned, but that no further damage was expected after firefighters stopped the advancing blaze.

The number of dead from the weeklong fires in Northern California now stands at 37, and the number of destroyed homes at 5,700. Authorities say about 100,000 people are under evacuation orders.

Teter says plans are in the works to allow some evacuees to return to their homes, but they haven't been put in place yet.

With high winds and dry weather statewide, more fire crews and equipment such as helicopters are being staged in Southern California in preparation for any fires there. 

UPDATE 12:34 p.m. - According to Governor Jerry Brown's office, the federal government has approved direct aid to those affected by wildfires in Butte, Lake, Mendocino and Yuba counties. A similar request for Napa and Sonoma counties was approved Friday.    

Survivors who reside in these six counties can apply for federal Individual Disaster Assistance at www.disasterassistance.gov.

UPDATE 12:05 p.m.: As of noon Saturday, there are no evacuation orders in place for Butte and Yuba counties. An evacuation warning remains in place in Butte County due to the La Porte fire.

All Butte county evacuation shelters are closed.

See more information on evacuations -- including shelter info -- for Butte County here, and for Yuba county here.

Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein are set to tour the wine-country fire zones Saturday and attend a community meeting in Santa Rosa in the afternoon.

UPDATE 9:59 a.m.: Containment has continued to increase on a number of fires throughout northern California. Containment lines surround 77 percent or more of the La Porte, Cherokee and Cascade fires burning in Butte and Yuba counties. In Sonoma county, firefighters are working to hold fires containment lines against gusty winds that forced further evacuations early Saturday morning in Santa Rosa.

The National Weather Service in Sacramento says winds will continue throughout Saturday with gusts up to 45 miles per hour, creating a challenge in containing existing fires and elevating the risk that any new fires could quickly grow out of control. The winds are not, however, as strong as on Sunday October 8, when multiple large fires started overnight. Winds are expected to die down somewhat on  Sunday. A red flag warning is in place through the weekend for much of Northern California.

There is some repreive on the horizon, the weather service says: Confidence is increasing that a wet cold front will bring rain around Thursday, October 19.

Red _Flag [4]

8:52 a.m.: (AP) - Winds kicked up overnight, forcing new evacuations for about 400 homes as wildfires continue to rage in California's wine country.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Saturday the affected areas include the Oakmont retirement community that was evacuated earlier in the week when fire ravaged portions of Santa Rosa.

CAL FIRE spokesman Jonathan Cox says the fire also reached a sparsely populated part of Sonoma, a town of 11,000, and has burned some structures.

The fires have caused an unprecedented amount of death and destruction in the state, with officials reporting 35 dead and 5,700 homes and businesses destroyed. Those numbers make this the deadliest and most destructive series of fires California has ever seen.

Although firefighters made progress in containing the fires Friday, officials say the winds on Saturday are testing the work they accomplished.

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