In the United States, Firefighters began to gain ground against wildfires that have killed at least 29 people in Northern California and left hundreds missing in the heart of the state's wine country. The latest casualty figures, revised upward by six fatalities yesterday, marked the greatest loss of life from a single California wildfire event in 84 years. With 3,500 homes and businesses incinerated, the so-called North Bay fires also rank among the most destructive in state history.
The fires have scorched more than 190,000 acres, an area nearly the size of New York City, reducing whole neighborhoods in the city of Santa Rosa to gray ash and smoldering ruins dotted with charred trees and burned-out cars. The official cause of the disaster was under investigation, but officials said power lines toppled by gale-force winds on Sunday night may have sparked the conflagration.
Authorities have warned that the death toll from the spate of more than 20 fires raging across eight counties for a fourth day could climb higher, with more than 400 people in Sonoma County alone still listed as missing.