At least 13 deaths recorded, thousands of homes destroyed

Massive, rapidly advancing wildfires have claimed at least 15 lives and destroyed 1,500 homes in the state of California as of Tuesday.


At least 17 fires have burned more than 115,000 acres (46,540 hectares) in the past 36 hours in the north and south of the U.S.'s most populous state, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said in a statement.

But the agency said fast-blowing winds that fanned the flames Sunday night and Monday morning have largely dissipated, giving firefighters a window to advance Tuesday.

"Unfortunatley the winds are expected to pick back up tomorrow and into Thursday," Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said in a live Facebook briefing.

The fires have decimated up to 2,000 homes and commercial buildings, according to Berlant.

Sheriff officials confirmed 11 people have died in northern California's Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa and Yuba counties where a majority of the fires have been burning.

Canyon fire No. 2 in Anaheim Hills

In Napa County, home to California's world-famous wine country, an elderly couple was among the dead

Napa County Sheriff Sgt. Mark Foster identified the couple as Charles and Sara Rippey, according to the East Bay Times newspaper. Charles, 100 years old, and Sara, who was wheelchair bound, died after their caretaker was unable to reach them in time.

"She was barely able to get out in time and wasn’t able to get to them,” Foster said.

In Southern California, a fire outside Los Angeles has burned 7,500 acres in Anaheim. But firefighters have managed to boost containment from five percent to 25 percent, the city of Anaheim said on its webpage.

AA