Published:  12:37 AM, 13 October 2017

Death toll in California wildfire rises to 23

More than 200 fire engines and firefighting crews from around the country were being rushed to California on Wednesday to help battle infernos which have left at least 23 people dead and thousands homeless.  This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event, California fire Chief Ken Pimlott told reporters. We're not going to be out of the woods for a great number of days to come.

Pimlott said that after a respite on Tuesday winds were kicking up again on Wednesday and the winds and dry conditions were hampering efforts to contain the blazes.

We are still impacted by five years of drought, the director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said. These fires were driven by the critically dry fuel bed, he added. We are literally looking at explosive vegetation.

Pimlott said the death toll from the fires among the deadliest ever in California had risen to 21 and could be expected to go up further.

Eleven of the deaths have occurred in Sonoma County, a wine-producing region which has been particularly hard hit, while six people have died in Mendocino County.

-AFP, Santa Rosa

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