The Redwood Valley and Sulphur fires burning in Mendocino County have destroyed at least 425 homes, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department. At least four commercial structures have been destroyed.
As of Sunday morning, the combined fires have burned more than 37,207 acres. The fires are 37% contained.
Some neighborhoods in Redwood Valley, Willits and Potter Valley are being repopulated at noon, according to the department. A list of the areas is available on the department's Facebook page.
Officials confirmed Saturday that 38 people in four counties had died as a result of the fires in Northern California in the last week.
Twenty people died in Sonoma County
Eight people died in Mendocino County
Six people died in Napa County
Four people died in Yuba County
Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano announced his county's latest figures at a news conference Saturday afternoon, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection confirmed the other three counties' death tolls.
Officials in Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa counties have released the names of more than 15 of the victims, including Charles and Sara Rippey of Napa. The elderly couple -- he was 100, she was 98 -- died when fire overwhelmed their home in Napa.
Patty Ginochio saw the long line of headlights arriving in the early-morning gloom.
When day broke, four hours later, the beaches of the coastal town of Bodega Bay, straddling Highway 1, teemed with refugees fleeing the wildfires that had destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens of people.
Many of the arrivals were immigrants, who huddled together and spoke their worries in Spanish.
One of the wettest winters on record, followed by the hottest summer on record, has created possibly the worst potential for fire in Napa County that the state has seen, authorities said Saturday.
Already entrenched in a weeklong battle against a series of fires scorching wine country that have killed dozens, the potential for more running flames remains, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Mike Smith.
Experts use a scientific formula to determine the potential of a fire, called its energy release component, Smith said. On Saturday, that potential is the worst "in recorded history," Smith said.
During a night of strong winds, the 46,000-acre Nuns fire in Sonoma County grew by at least 300 acres, threatening the outskirts of the city of Sonoma and the Oakmont neighborhood in Santa Rosa.
Early Saturday morning, a small fire that began when a downed power line ignited a tree branch rapidly grew into a 300-acre blaze on the southwest corner of the Nuns fire, east of Highway 12, Cal Fire officials told firefighters at a morning briefing.
"That's what a little wind can do," Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said in an interview. "It's still very volatile."
Body camera footage released by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office on Friday captured the frantic effort to evacuate Mark West Springs as fires raced toward the Santa Rosa neighborhood.
With heavy winds blowing and sparks flying, a sheriff's deputy raced from house to house, pounding on doors and shouting, "Sheriff's Office! Sheriff's Office!"
As he drove down the mountain, his camera showed flames licking the side of the hill on the right side of the road and devouring a fence. Sparks showered the windshield, and the sky was an ominous orange.
Ukiah, the county seat of Mendocino County, is quickly becoming a place of refuge for those displaced by the deadly Redwood/Potter fires.
Employees at Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op make ham and turkey sandwiches every day for the volunteer fire fighters. Officials are running an evacuation center at the high school, while the fairgrounds are home to a growing number of tents and RVs.
“Wherever you go, there’s someone talking about how they had to be evacuated or lost their house,” said Lori Rosenberg, general manager at Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op.
Officials continued to identify victims of the fire Friday.
In Mendocino County, where at least eight people have died, officials identified three victims from the Redwood Valley: Kai Logan Shepherd, 14; Roy Howard Bowman, 87; and Irma Elsie Bowman, 88.
Kai, the 14-year-old, was found near his family’s house on the 11300 block of West Road. Authorities believe he was trying to escape the fire when he was “overtaken by flames,” according to a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department statement.