06:42 GMT +313 December 2017
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    The remains of a car sits near the Fountaingrove Inn Hotel as it burns at rear in Santa Rosa, Calif., Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.

    ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ Northern California Wildfires Force Widespread Evacuations

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    Large wildfires in northern California are causing havoc as hospitals, schools and businesses over a wide area are shut down and tens of thousands of residents are forced to evacuate due to several rapidly spreading blazes.

    Residents of the second-most densely populated area of America's most populated state woke up on Monday morning to dense smoke covering predawn skies, as high winds and hot temperatures saw multiple fast-moving wildfires explode in size, forcing widespread evacuations.

    Following several days of hot temperatures, combined with Sunday night's sudden easterly high winds, at least 14 wildfires are currently burning out of control in the northern areas of the San Francisco/Bay Area region of northern California, filling the air with dense smoke and prompting residents to flood 9-1-1 emergency service phone lines to report the flames.

    California Governor Jerry Brown has issued a state of emergency for those counties currently at highest risk, according to multiple reports.

    As of 11 a.m. PST, at least 14 fires covering an aggregate of an estimated
    60,000 acres are currently burning out of control as fire fighting teams and emergency personnel from around the state rush to the region in what is now being described as one of the worst outbreaks in the state's history.

    Two large hospitals in Santa Rosa, the largest city in the northern Bay Area, have been evacuated and several nearby neighborhoods — including prominent hotel chain structures — have burned to the ground.

    Firefighters currently overwhelmed with the battle are focusing on rescue and evacuation, leaving for now the fight to put out the blazes until residents and key infrastructure are secured.

    "We are in a life and preservation mode to get people out to safety," according to California Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox.

    "This fire is moving extremely quickly. It is very dynamic. This is a once-in-a-lifetime fire," stated Cox.

    The California Highway Patrol has shut down the two primary highways in the region while the National Weather Service has released a red-flag warning for the area until Tuesday, warning of continuing gusty winds and extremely dry conditions.

     

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    state of emergency, wildfires, wildfire, San Francisco, California
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