CA fires burn area the size of New York City

Tonight, 17 fires are burning in California, scorching more than 200,000 acres and killing at least 31 people.  

Firefighters battling the wildfires are increasing containment of some of the larger fires, but there are now new concerns.  The current wildfires are now classified as the deadliest fire disaster in state history.  

So far, killing at least 31 people and burning an area as large as New York City.  A path of destruction, obliviating thousands of homes and businesses.  Firefighters now racing against time, with winds expected to get stronger overnight and throughout the weekend, threatening to wipe out any progress they've made.  Also watching the forecast closely, nervous homeowners.  

"It was like the Fourth of July," says Homeowner Mike Hibbard, "All these embers were just falling everywhere."

Another homeowner, Jean Welch, says, "In 1917, there was WWI, and here we are...  this looks like WWII".

The two victims of the disaster, both from Santa Rosa, already overwhelmed by the destruction surrounding them.  "I've been here 39 years," says Jean, "and I paid it off a few years ago, and was very proud of myself and so to find it still standing, I don't know what I did."

More than 2800 homes were destroyed in Santa Rosa.  Mike and Jean's homes, among a handful, still standing, leaving them with what they call, "survivor's guilt".  "Why us?" asks Mike, "why did we... our houses not burn and everybody else's..."

Jean tells us, "I couldn't believe it. The police cars and men and firemen have been so nice. I wish we could all stay that way forever."

Firefighters say this area remains a danger zone and poor air quality is another major concern.  No word yet when these residents, who lost everything, will be able to return to what's left of their homes and begin their rebuilding process.  

 

 

--Elizabeth Hur, ABC News


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