At least 38 dead as flames spread through northern California

World Today

Rising winds are fanning wildfires in northern California, forcing hundreds more to flee. At least 38 are dead.

Most recently, the fires bore down on Sonoma, including the historic Sonoma Town Square. CGTN’s May Lee has more from there.

Wind gusts up to 70-kilometers per hour fueled fires burning in East Sonoma overnight and into the morning on Saturday.
More than 9,000 firefighters from all over the country and overseas tirelessly fended off multiple fires on hillsides to protect as much as they can.

For evacuated residents like Stacey Mattson and her husband who have a home and business right near the fire line, all they could do is watch and wait. “I’d be more heartbroken if my store burned down than if my house burned down. We have employees. It’s a community gathering spot,” said Stacey.

Paul Giles’ home was still standing but he worried for the town of Sonoma. “Biggest concern it’s such a beautiful little town and recently I read that it’s the most visited town of its size nationally,” said Paul.

And a favorite spot to visit is the historic Sonoma Town Square but it’s now a virtual ghost town. There are, however, a few businesses that had stayed open including the Sonoma Hotel, which had been providing shelter for fire crews and evacuees.

And even the most seasoned firefighters can’t help but feel the pain of loss all around. “You see some heartbreaking things when you’re fighting these fires,” explained Ralph Gladwin, Captain for the Merced Fire Department.

But even in the face of such devastation and loss, the people of Sonoma and other fire-ravaged communities fought back with resilience, hope and even a little humor.