California wildfires destroy thousands of homes and businesses
2017-10-12 13:21:00

Hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to Northern California’s wine country to help battle raging wildfires. At least 21 people have died so far, and hundreds of people are still reported missing.

At least 22 fires burned across eight counties of Northern California with Napa Valley and the city of Santa Rosa the hardest hit. Hotels, vineyards and schools all burned to the ground. More than 3,500 homes and buildings were destroyed, forcing thousands to flee to shelters.

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It’s a surreal site for neighborhoods in Santa Rosa, as people survey the aftermath. Many are frustrated that authorities will not allow them to go back into their homes, as the fires continue to spread.

With hundreds of people still missing, communities are holding out hope that the main reason is because power is down in so many areas.

Worried California vintners

Speedy wildfires continued to burn Tuesday as workers in Napa and Sonoma counties were picking and processing ripe grapes to make chardonnay, merlot and other wines that have made the region a global hot spot. Millions of locals and out-of-staters flock to the counties every year to sample wine, sit in mud baths and soak in the region's natural beauty.

At least five wineries belonging to members have had "complete losses" in facilities, with another nine reporting some damage, said Michael Honig, board chairman of the Napa Valley Vintners trade association and president of Honig Vineyard & Winery. He said the group has not heard from all members, especially those in the most vulnerable parts of the valley.

"We don't have a good idea of how the vineyards have been impacted," he said. "The silver lining, if there is one to this fire, this situation, is that most of us have brought in 90 percent of our crop for 2017, so the vast majority of the crops have been picked."

Most of the remaining fruit, he said, are thicker-skinned cabernet sauvignon grapes that won't be affected by smoke.

Source:CGTN Editor:Hiram