California’s Valley fire destroys up to 1,000 homes & commercial structures

California’s Valley fire destroys up to 1,000 homes & commercial structures

The so-called Valley fire in California burnt up to 1,000 homes and commercial structures as of Sunday afternoon, forcing thousands of people to evacuate homes and move to safer places.

Ripping down a hill toward Middletown, just two hours north of the city of San Francisco, the wildfire was moving so fast on Saturday that some residents hardly got time to dress before they fled.

Maddie Ross, a 25-year-old student at Santa Rosa Junior College, fled with her grandparents from their home in Hidden Valley Lake after aggressive flames approached their property. She said they didn’t even have time to put on their shoes.

Recalling the forced evacuation, she said, “We were surrounded by fire. It looked like hell everywhere. It was terrifying, truly terrifying. I’ve never been in a situation like that. We all felt like the world was coming to an end.”

Scott McLean, a battalion chief at the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection, said hundreds of firefighters were deployed to contain the fire near San Andreas, California, on Saturday but they could not contain the fire. As of Sunday afternoon, the fire had grown to nearly 50,000 acres, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in Lake and Napa Counties.

Dry conditions due to the state’s years-long drought, high temperatures and gusty winds have been contributing to “explosive” conditions. Since the start of 2015, the state has responded to roughly 6,800 wildfires.

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