By Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:
The nation is still reeling from a series of major disasters in recent weeks, and now another one has hit us. At this moment, an enormous “firestorm” is consuming tens of thousands of acres in eight counties in northern California. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph are rapidly driving 15 large wildfires across Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Nevada, Calaveras and Butte counties, and the devastation that is taking place is being described as “like Armageddon”. Ultimately, it looks like this is going to be one of the worst months for wildfires in the history of the state, and all of this comes on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and the Las Vegas shooting. Ever since late August, it seems like all hell has broken loose in America.
So far at least 1,500 structures have been destroyed, at least 20,000 people have been evacuated and at least 73,000 acres have been burned. The smell of smoke has reached San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco, and California Governor Jerry Brown has officially declared a state of emergency.
If these wildfires were just consuming isolated parts of northern California, this wouldn’t be such a big story. The reason why this crisis is getting so much attention from the national media is because some of these fires are raging “unchecked through high-end resorts, grocery stores and tree-lined neighborhoods”…
More than a dozen wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through California wine country Monday, destroying at least 1,500 homes and businesses and sending thousands fleeing as flames raged unchecked through high-end resorts, grocery stores and tree-lined neighborhoods.
As he fled through the ember-stewn streets of his neighborhood in Santa Rosa, Jeff Okrepkie knew it was probably the last time he would see his home of the past five years standing.
His worst fears were confirmed Monday morning, when a friend sent him a photo of what was left: a smoldering heap of burnt metal and debris.
Could you imagine how helpless you would feel if you were forced to evacuate and you knew that your home and everything that you owned was about to be consumed by fire?
That is what thousands of northern Californians are facing right now. In fact, many are getting out with so little time to spare that they can literally feel the heat from the flames as they drive away…
“It was an inferno like you’ve never seen before,” said Marian Williams, who caravanned with neighbors before dawn as one of the wildfires reached the vineyards and ridges at her small Sonoma County town of Kenwood.
Ms Williams could feel the heat of her fire through the car as she fled. “Trees were on fire like torches,” she said.
At this point, Santa Rosa appears to be getting hit worse than just about anywhere else.
According to Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott, one major neighborhood within the city has already been completely destroyed…
When winds pushed the Tubbs fire into Santa Rosa on Sunday night, it created “a firestorm within a city,” Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott said.
“It’s fair to say it’s been destroyed,” Pimlot said of Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood. Hotels, a big box store and a high school burned as the flames danced around the 101 Freeway.
“Late last night starting around 10 o’clock you had 50-60 mph winds that surfaced — really across the whole northern half of the state,” he said. “Every spark is going to ignite.”
Authorities are telling us that the big box store that was destroyed was a Kmart, and the hotel that was burned to the ground was a Hilton. But even more disturbing was what happened to Journey’s End retirement community…
In Santa Rosa, the fire gutted a Hilton hotel and flattened the Journey’s End retirement community, a trailer park not far from the freeway that crosses the city. Most of the trailers were leveled, leaving a smoldering debris field of household appliances, filing cabinets and the charred personal effects of more than 100 residents. Pieces of ash fell like snowflake flurries, and a pall of white smoke across the city blotted out the sun.
Insurance will cover the Kmart and the Hilton, but it is probably fair to say that a lot of the people living in that trailer park did not have adequate coverage.
Sadly, many of them will now be forced to start over with essentially nothing.
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