LOCAL CALIFORNIA

The death toll from the fires has hit 41, and officials believe that number will rise as searchers make their way through the neighborhoods in Santa Rosa that burned down as well as mountain communities across wine country.

What you need to know:

  • Officials said Monday they are making good progress on the massive Tubbs and Atlas fires, which are both more than 60% contained.
  • Crews have also achieved 50% containment on the Nuns fire, but a smaller adjacent blaze near the Oakmont neighborhood of Santa Rosa continues to cause trouble.
  • Mandatory evacuation orders for Calistoga residents east of the Tubbs fire and locals living south of Lake Curry east of the Atlas fire have been lifted. Orders remain in place for several communities to the Atlas fire's north, east and south flanks.
  • Over the next few days, weather conditions are expected to improve significantly.
  • Northern California fires have scorched more than 220,000 acres since they began Oct. 8. As many as 10,000 firefighters from throughout California and surrounding states have battled the fires around the clock.
Anaheim Hills

In Anaheim, parents abandon their cars to pick up their children on foot

Capt. Chris Lingwall of Brea after attempting to save a home whose roof was on fire. (Stuart Palley)
Capt. Chris Lingwall of Brea after attempting to save a home whose roof was on fire. (Stuart Palley)

At a strip mall downhill from the evacuated neighborhoods in Anaheim, a line snaked out from the gas station. Seniors filed into buses from an adjacent senior living center, and ambulances carted residents away.

Families cast concerned glances up toward the smoke-covered hills, over which helicopters were ferrying water from a reservoir.

By the time Eric Schmidt, 48, had driven home from his work at Disney, police would not let him back into his neighborhood. Parents frantic to pick up their children at a nearby elementary school had taken to abandoning their cars and seeking their children on foot.

Schmidt's wife, Marigold, left their home with only their three dogs, and his son Ethan walked from his high school; the family reunited at the strip mall parking lot with a dog bakery, a Thai restaurant and a spa.

"It came so fast you couldn't even grab anything," said Eric Schmidt, who said his family didn't even have a change of clothes. A neighbor at the end of the cul-de-sac had told him the flames had reached his backyard. Houses lower on the hill were burning. For the moment though, he could see his home was safe from the doorbell cam app installed on his phone.

It was the second time he's had to evacuate from a wildfire in 18 years of living in the neighborhood.

"With the Santa Ana winds, the fire just funnels out from the canyon," he said.

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