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How California fire damaged so much so quickly

By Deepika

Fuelled by the return of strong winds, the wildfires tearing through California wine country exploded in size and number on Thursday as authorities ordered new evacuations and the death toll climbed to 23 a figure expected to rise higher still.

As many as 8,000 firefighters and other personnel were battling the blazes and more resources were pouring in from Oregon, Nevada, Washington and Arizona.

Flames have raced across the wine-growing region and the scenic coastal area of Mendocino farther north, leaving little more than smouldering ashes and eye-stinging smoke in their wake. Whole neighbourhoods were levelled, leaving only brick chimneys and charred appliances to mark sites that were once family homes.

A fast moving fire

A fast moving fire

Flames were spread rapidly by hot, dry "Diablo" winds - similar to Southern California's Santa Ana winds - that blew into northern California toward the Pacific on Sunday night. So far, fires have scorched more than 250 square miles, and more than 3,500 homes and businesses have already been destroyed. Photo credit: PTI.

Where people have died this week

Where people have died this week

So far, 21 fire-related deaths have been confirmed in Northern California as of noon Thursday.

11 people died in Sonoma County

6 people died in Mendocino County

2 people died in Yuba County

2 people died in Napa County

The 28,000-acre Tubbs fire accounted for the 11 Sonoma County deaths, making it the sixth-deadliest fire in California history, Williams said. Photo credit: PTI

Napa, Sonoma counties worst hit

Napa, Sonoma counties worst hit

Wildfires are devastating California's Napa and Sonoma wine country, with tens of thousands of people forced to evacuate as flames devour buildings and grounds alike.

Paradise Ridge: One of the most gut-wrenching losses in wine country, this picturesque Santa Rosa vineyard has been decimated by flames.

Many wineries and businesses in the area are unreachable; the power appeared to be out and phone lines down. Photo credit: PTI

California wildfire is among the most destructive fire in US

California wildfire is among the most destructive fire in US

The wildfires that are roaring through northern California are already "among the most destructive fire events in US history", and by the time it is all said and done this could be the worst wildfire season in the history of the state. Photo credit: PTI

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