The Wine Country Firestorm has laid waste to landmarks, homes, businesses and schools, burning uncontrolled into Monday night with 11 dead and 100 people reported missing.
A raging firestorm born in the dark of night by dry, violent winds roared down from the rural hills bordering Napa and Sonoma counties early Monday and cut a devastating swath into Santa Rosa from its eastern outskirts, killing at least seven city residents and destroying more than 1,500 structures.
Tens of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes hours before sunrise, when the ruin wrought by flames in several terrifying hours became apparent over a rural and urban landscape spanning more than 50 square miles. In Sonoma County alone, officials said 100 people were reported missing.
For thousands of firefighters and residents trying to protect homes, the fire driven by gusts up to 68 mph was an amorphous, unstoppable force, rampaging through Mark West Springs, Larkfield and Wikiup, and Fountaingrove, where it claimed hundreds of upscale Santa Rosa houses tucked into forested hillsides.
From there it raced on, scorching landmark businesses and school campuses and threatening two hospitals, where hundreds of patients were evacuated. Throwing sparks ahead of its main front, the fire then jumped Highway 101 into a heavily populated corner of northwest Santa Rosa.
And then on top over everything, two small earthquakes hit the area yesterday. A minor earthquake shook Sonoma County outside Santa Rosa on Monday evening as the Tubbs Fire and other blazes continued to burn the North Coast. The magnitude 2.9 quake struck about 8:16 p.m. and was centered about 3.7 miles west of Kentwood, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Emergency dispatchers were not aware of any significant damage.
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