SONOMA, Calif. (CBSLA/AP) – Firefighters gained some ground on a blaze burning in the heart of California’s wine country, but face another tough day ahead with low humidity and high winds expected to return.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean says a blaze burning in Sonoma and Napa counties is 22 percent contained Friday.
Thousands of firefighters are battling 21 wildfires spanning more than 300 square miles and more crews are pouring in to help. McLean says that the blazes grew little overnight thanks to favorable weather but warns gusty winds and higher temperatures are forecast Friday.
About 300 Southern California personnel and nearly 100 fire vehicles which have been battling the 9,200-acre Canyon Fire 2 in Anaheim Hills this week were on their way up to Northern California Thursday night.
Most of the firefighters being reassigned have no idea what they will be facing up north. They’ve been too busy with the Canyon Fire 2 to pay attention to what’s happening in other regions.
“When they’re out there on a fire line for 16, 18, 24 hours at a time, they don’t have access to media or anything like that,” said Sgt. Daron Wyatt with the Anaheim Fire Department.
Since igniting Sunday in spots across eight counties, the blazes have killed 31 people and destroyed at least 3,500 homes and businesses. Hundreds of people are injured or missing. In areas where they were able, cadaver dogs were sniffing through the ashes. Evacuees fled to friends’ houses, shelters and even beaches.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis says he’s praying for all those who have lost loved ones or are searching for them in the wildfires. Francis sent a telegram of condolence Friday to San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez.
In it, he offered his “heartfelt solidarity and his prayers for all those affected by this disaster.”
He also encouraged emergency personnel who are helping out. In the telegram, signed by the Vatican secretary of state, Francis said he was particularly keeping in his prayers “those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)