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.

Sonoma County evacuees will no longer be allowed to visit homes for medicine, urgent items, sheriff says

Sonoma County authorities will no longer escort evacuees back into homes to grab essential items, County Sheriff Robert Giordano announced Wednesday afternoon.

“For a short time we were trying to let people back into their houses to get medications and urgent things," Giordano said during a press conference Wednesday at the Sonoma County sheriff's headquarters. “We cannot do that any more because of fire safety issues.”

People who have been asked to leave should stay away from evacuation areas and shouldn't plan to return to their homes until after Monday, he said.

“This is a big event and we have a lot of work to do still," Giordano said. “I would encourage people to find places to stay.”

Officials are also trying to upgrade Nixle so that people will get phone calls to their landlines when alerts are pushed out through the online notification system, Giordano said.

“We’re trying to upgrade Nixle right now.… We can upgrade Nixle to a level where it can also dial landlines in a geographical area,” he said.

He did not know how long that would take. 

Authorities are still trying to find hundreds of missing people, and are "starting very limited searches right now in some of the cold areas," he said.

Another 350 National Guard personnel are on the way to help with efforts, Giordano said.

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