(CNN)California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency on Sunday as wind-whipped wildfires in the north and south of the state gobbled up land, destroyed homes and forced almost 200,000 people to flee.

The Tick Fire, burning near Santa Clarita in the southern part of the state, destroyed at least 22 structures and threatened 10,000 more, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said Sunday.

Meanwhile, Californians outside the fire zones find themselves in the dark — literally.

    About 1 million Pacific Gas and Electric customers lost power — 965,000 because of the Public Safety Power Shutoff, and an additional 100,000 for other reasons, said Mark Quinlan, PG&E incident commander.

    Californians should not expect immediate relief. Strong winds will keep blowing into Monday and a second batch of Santa Ana winds may hit Southern California in the middle of the week, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.

    Winds hit the 70-80 mph range on Sunday, the National Weather Service said. Newsom’s proclamation mentioned a “historic wind event” and said “fire weather conditions are unprecedented due to the scale, scope, wind speed and dry fuel conditions.”

    “We are deploying every resource available, and are coordinating with numerous agencies as we continue to respond to these fires,” Newsom said in a statement. “It is critical that people in evacuation zones heed the warnings from officials and first responders, and have the local and state resources they need as we fight these fires.”

    Kincade Fire spreading fast

    The rapid growth of the Kincade Fire alarmed fire officials and residents like Christopher Bingham. He said his family prepared to evacuate, but he was still surprised to see a wall of fire approaching his house in Geyserville a few days ago.

    “It was 5:30 a.m. when I looked out and saw flames within 400 yards of my house,” he told CNN affiliate WPIX. “It was time to get out.”

    That fire now threatens 31,175 other homes and buildings, said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Authorities have increased evacuation orders to cover 180,000 people in Sonoma County, the sheriff’s office said.

    “This is the largest evacuation that any of us at the Sheriff’s Office can remember,” the department tweeted. “Take care of each other.”

    The Kaiser Permanente Hospital and Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital evacuated patients in Santa Rosa, the Sonoma County seat devastated by fire two years ago. The historic Soda Rock Winery in Sonoma County went up in flames.

    Newsom said 3,000 fire personnel are working on the Kincade Fire. Resources have been brought in from San Diego and southern California to help, he said.

    That brings the possibility for “very rapid fire spread and extreme fire behavior with any new ignitions Sunday night into Monday,” the National Weather Service in Los Angeles said.

    “A second, potentially stronger Santa Ana wind event is forecast to occur Wednesday into Thursday, with winds gusting to 70 mph,” Brink said.

    More than 1 million people in the dark

    In an effort to avert any more wildfires, Pacific Gas & Electric has shut off power to 960,000 customers, PG&E said Sunday.

    But the number of people without power is higher, since electric customers include houses and businesses.

    Residents in parts of 38 counties in the Northern and Southern Sierra Foothills, the North Bay and Mendocino, the Bay Area, the Central Coast and the Central Valley are part of the rolling blackouts, the company said.

    PG&E announced the current shutoff last week. The company has made preventive shutoffs all over northern and central California in recent weeks, but this one could be the largest.

    “This (public safety power shutoff) action is based on forecasts of historic dry, hot and windy weather that poses a significant risk for damage and sparks on the electric system and rapid wildfire spread,” PG&E said.

    Paradise, the town devastated by last year’s deadly Camp Fire, is among the areas scheduled to lose power.

    Californians tired of losing electricity might have to get used to it.

    Earlier this year, the company warned it could proactively cut power more often during risky weather conditions as a means of preventing wildfires caused by high winds downing live power equipment.

    The preventive power outages may continue for a decade, PG&E’s chief executive said earlier this month.

    PG&E has came under widespread criticism and agreed to pay billions for its role in the 2018 Camp Fire, California’s deadliest and most destructive blaze.

    A Cal Fire investigation found the company responsible for the fire. PG&E acknowledged it’s “probable” that its equipment started the fire.

    Helping evacuees

      More than 700 hosts in Northern California have opened up their homes and rental properties via Airbnb to evacuees leaving their homes due to the Kincade Fire, according to Airbnb.

      Hosts in the region are opening their homes for free until November 7 to displaced residents and relief workers deployed to help.

      Source: http://edition.cnn.com/


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