California deadly wildfires : 17 dead, 2000 buildings destroyed

There is a mutual aid agreement throughout the state of California, so firefighters say they expect this to happen during fire season.

People in the county, a tourist destination about 160 miles north of San Francisco, say they need help too, and feel largely overlooked.

At least 24 people have died and at least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed by the blazes, which were well on their way to becoming the deadliest and most destructive in California history.

Wesley Carr, 23, a resident of Sebastopol in Sonoma County, said smoke from the fires had enveloped the area.

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Sonoma and Napa counties endured a fourth day of choking smoke while many residents fled to shelters to await word on their homes and loved ones.

Many of the flames still burned out of control. "It's like driving through a war zone", JJ Murphy, 22, one of thousands of evacuees, said of the area around his home in the Sonoma Valley community of Glen Ellen.

"It is too early to tell whether any of the wildfires were started by humans, All these fires are under investigation", CNN quoted California Fire Director Ken Pimlot as saying, adding that his department was focusing on rescues and firefighting.

They said 8,000 firefighters and other personnel were battling the blazes and more resources were pouring in from Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. Strategic attacks that have curbed destruction and death tolls in recent years have not worked against the ferocity of the blazes.

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Flames have raced across the wine-growing region and the scenic coastal area of Mendocino farther north, leveling whole neighborhoods and leaving only brick chimneys and charred appliances to mark where homes once stood. "Every single one of these firefighters is treating you like you are their community". Power and utility companies, Moorlach said, "didn't want to spend the money" making things safer by moving lines underground.

Just last month, responding to what it called California's "tree mortality crisis" caused by the five-year drought, PG&E began flying helicopters over Sonoma County to identify dead trees "that could pose a wildfire or other public safety risk", according to a Sept. 20 news release by the utility.

Conditions may look fine now in the Piedmont, but it can all change in an instant. That means almost all of them are preventable. As the fires grow, officials voiced concern that separate blazes would merge into even larger infernos.

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