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California wine region ravaged by fast-spreading wildfires

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Media captionWildfires rip through California’s famous wine region

Parts of California’s wine region are being ravaged by fast-spreading fires, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing mass evacuations.

About 20,000 people have fled from Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties after three fires broke out across the area renown for its vineyards.

At least one person has reportedly died as the fires spread rapidly.

The governor of California declared an emergency as fire-fighters battled to control the wild blazes.

Image copyright AFP/GETTY
Image caption Officials say at least one person has died and about 1,500 buildings have been destroyed overnight

“These fires have destroyed structures and continue to threaten thousands of homes, necessitating the evacuation of thousands of residents,” the declaration said.

The head of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Kim Pimlott said that about 1,500 buildings had already been destroyed.

It is not yet known how the fires started on Sunday night.

Napa County’s Fire Chief warned that conditions were hindering fire-fighting efforts, as further resources were brought in from across the state.

Local media reported that one person died in Mendocino County when thousands of acres burned in one valley. Further injuries have been reported and others are said to be missing.

Dozens of vineyard workers were reportedly airlifted to safety overnight.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hundreds of homes have been destroyed in the overnight wildfires

The fires are particularly fast-spreading because of the combination of high winds, low humidity and hot, dry weather.

The National Weather Service has issued a warning for the San Francisco area that “any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly”.

Officials say at least 44,000 acres have already been destroyed.


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