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California wildfires kill 10, injure over 100

Wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through California wine country on Monday, killing at least 10 people and injuring at least 100, destroying 1,500 homes and businesses and sending thousands fleeing as flames raged unchecked through high-end resorts, grocery stores and tree-lined neighbourhoods.

The fires broke out nearly simultaneously and then exploded overnight, sending residents fleeing as embers rained down and flames raged around them. Two hospitals in Santa Rosa, the largest city in the region with 175,000 people, were forced to evacuate patients.

Taken as a group, the fires are already among the 10 deadliest in California history, and the death toll is expected to grow.

Fires from ruptured gas lines dotted the smoky landscapes of blackened Santa Rosa hillsides. Fire trucks raced by smouldering roadside landscaping in search of higher priorities.

The flames were fickle in some corners of the city. One hillside home remained unscathed while a dozen surrounding it were destroyed.

One of the homes that were reduced to ash had a Mercedes Benz in the garage. Two cars parked across the street were untouched.

The large majority of the injured were treated for smoke inhalation, according to St. Joseph Health, which operates hospitals in the Santa Rosa area. Two were in critical condition and one was in serious condition. The number of injured is expected to climb as information comes in for all the other areas affected by the firestorm consuming the state.

The flames were unforgiving throughout Santa Rosa, torching block after block with little to salvage.

Hundreds of homes in the Fountain Grove area were leveled by flames so hot they melted the glass off of cars and turned aluminium wheels into liquid. One neighbourhood of older homes was scorched, leaving only brick chimneys and downed power lines.

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