California wine country was devastated by yet another series of wildfires overnight as flames destroyed numerous homes and other buildings in Napa and Sonoma counties and thousands were forced to run for their lives in the darkness of night.
A number of homes began to burn early Monday in the suburban eastern neighborhoods of Santa Rosa. The city of 177,000 residents, Sonoma County’s most populous, was devastated three years ago by the Tubbs fire — also driven by strong winds — that destroyed about 1,500 homes in the northwestern Coffey Park neighborhood, which was mostly built in the 1980s.
On Monday, it was the suburban northeastern neighborhoods of Santa Rosa that were burning, this time from the Shady fire.
Whipped by powerful hot and dry Diablo winds coming from the north and east, which showered embers onto the city, flames engulfed houses in the area of Mountain Hawk Drive, which is lined with two-story tract homes in the Skyhawk development, built in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The number of structures lost was still unclear.
Deer were seen fleeing as firefighters battled the flames before dawn Monday.
Large swaths of Santa Rosa were under mandatory evacuation orders. Districts in the city’s northeast were ordered to empty, including the neighborhoods of Calistoga, Skyhawk, Melita, Stonebridge, the Oakmont retirement community and Pythian.
Busloads of older people were evacuated from the Oakmont Gardens assisted-living community as flames could be seen in the distance. Elsewhere in the city, cars jammed narrow roads as residents heeded evacuation orders.
Two other fires were also burning upwind of the fire encroaching on Santa Rosa,