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California governor declares state of emergency in 3 fire-scarred counties

California governor declares state of emergency in 3 fire-scarred counties

The fire is one of at least five brush fires burning in the region.

Alyssa O'Gorman and her family fled their home in the nick of time, dodging the wind-driven wildfires roaring across northern California early Monday. The city lost unknown numbers of businesses and homes as the blaze shut down schools and forced patients at two city hospitals to evacuate.

Some of the worst of the wildfires have struck in the heart of wine country: At least three separate fires in Napa and Sonoma counties were burning across more than 50,000 acres as of Monday afternoon, leaving behind charred homes, vineyards and winery buildings.

The Atlas Fire, initially reported at 9:20 p.m. Sunday, had burned between 8,000 to 12,000 acres south of Lake Berryessa and off of Atlas Peak Road, according to Cal Fire.

Officials said it wouldn't be until daylight hours that fire agencies could begin to assess the amount of burned acreage and property loss.

Sonoma County resident John Dean was driving home early Monday when "I looked over and saw a house on fire" along the road.

Up to 10 separate fires threaten Sonoma County, where officials evacuated Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health hospitals.

An emergency evacuation center was full at the Finley Community Center in west Santa Rosa, located at 2060 W. College Ave. Shelters have been set up in the affected counties.

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The city also ordered evacuations in several neighborhoods.

One Twitter user reported that her building was evacuated after a resident pulled the fire alarm due to the smell.

Downed trees were blocking parts of one rural road and fires were burning on both sides of Highway 12 as gusts reached up to 60 miles per hour.

"Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly", the warning said. "I've gone out to get hold of news, which hasn't been much of a help", Palmgren said, as thick smoke surrounded his grandparents' Sonoma Valley home.

The area of Fountaingrove was particularly hard-hit, with photos showing numerous homes on fire.

Elderly people, children and those with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to the smoky conditions and should take extra precautions, air district officials said. The Sonoma County Fairgrounds is open for people with large animals; access the fairgrounds via Gate 7 on Aston Avenue.

The Napa Valley Register was reporting that authorities were going house to house just north of Silverado Resort urging residents to leave.

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