The forest fires in northern California claimed their fourth victim on Wednesday, as firefighters were trying to control the fire, which was advancing on the renowned wine-producing region of Napa Valley.
A dozen wineries, many of them luxury, succumbed to the flames of the “Glass Fire” fire, which started last Sunday and controlled by only 2% today, after devouring about 20,000 hectares. Dense smoke covered the valley and several buildings, some reduced to ruins, such as the facilities of the Castello di Amorosa winery.
“We keep our spirits up. We have been through difficult times recently, with the coronavirus and other fires,” said Madeleine Reid, director of Hospitality at the winery, surrounded by the remains of this replica of a medieval Italian castle, whose stones had been imported from Europe. “We hope everything goes well for our neighbors.”
Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated from the region in recent days due to the fire, which also affects the neighboring Sonoma Valley.
Calistoga, a small town famous for wine tourism, was deserted today, almost completely isolated by the flames. “Perhaps the positive side is that the fire is not inside the city, but around it,” its mayor, Chris Canning, told AFP.
In total, the fire destroyed more than 80 homes, an unknown number of commercial establishments and threatens more than 20,000 buildings, according to California firefighters. About 2 thousand of them are mobilized in the region.
California suffers this year from forest fires of exceptional magnitude, which have resulted in nearly 16,000 km² burned since the beginning of the season. About 300 km north of Napa Valley, another fire, called Zogg, claimed a fourth victim, a man evacuated by helicopter on Sunday, but who did not resist the burns, according to Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini.
About 30 people have died in California fires since the start of the current season. Their cause has not been determined, but scientists and local officials cite the role of climate change, which exacerbates chronic drought and causes extreme weather conditions in the western United States. President Donald Trump again blamed poor forest management.