The Latest: Officials close stretch of I-80 in Sacramento
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on the wildfires in Northern California (all times local):
Officials have closed a stretch of Interstate 80 in downtown Sacramento as smoke obstructed drivers along the busy stretch.
Sacramento Fire Department Capt. Keith Wade says a grass fire in the area was rapidly spreading when crews arrived Sunday afternoon.
He says officials opted to close a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) stretch of the interstate as they try to quickly extinguish the fire. Wade says the initial call came in as a grass fire that was threatening homes, but it spread to a grassy median in intense wind.
Wade says firefighters are going to work to get the freeway open “as soon as they can.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a statewide emergency as wildfires and extreme weather conditions forced almost 200,000 people from their homes.
He said in a statement Sunday that officials are deploying “every resource available” to respond to the wildfires, including a large blaze in Northern California’s wine country driven by powerful winds.
Smoke from a second wildfire in the San Francisco Bay Area briefly halted traffic on a bridge. The flames came dangerously close to homes in Vallejo.
In the south, a wildfire in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles has destroyed 18 structures, threatened homes and critical infrastructure.
A small wildfire broke out Sunday morning near Vallejo (vuh-LAY’-ho) with flames coming dangerously close to homes and forcing a college to evacuate at the northeast end of San Francisco Bay.
A live broadcast on KGO-TV shows the fire on both sides of Interstate 80 and homeowners using hoses on a hillside to try and fight it.
The fire forced the freeway to close and the California State University Maritime Academy to issue an evacuation order.
The wildfire halted traffic at the Carquinez Bridge toll booth as the freeway became shrouded in thick smoke.
Vallejo is 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) south of Geyserville where a massive wildfire forced 180,000 people to flee their communities.
Authorities say 180,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes as powerful winds threaten to spread a wildfire in Northern California’s wine country.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office tweeted Sunday that it’s the largest evacuation that any member of the force can remember.
The evacuation order was significantly expanded overnight to portions of Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 that was hit hard two years ago by a wildfire that destroyed thousands of homes and killed 22 people.
Fire officials say they are concerned the winds will blow embers and cause the fire to jump a major highway and spread to population centers.
Evacuation orders have expanded to parts of Santa Rosa as firefighters struggle to beat back a wind-driven wildfire that started in Northern California’s wine country four days ago.
Authorities issued the order early Sunday as historic winds fueled the fire overnight and prompted the state’s largest utility company to shut power to 2.3 million people to prevent additional wildfires.
Santa Rosa was hit hard by a wildfire that destroyed thousands of homes and killed 22 people two years ago. The evacuation order affects the northwestern section of the city.
California fire officials say the current wildfire, dubbed the Kincade Fire, that began Wednesday night has burned at least 40 square miles and is only 11% contained.
The National Weather Service says wind gusts topped 90 mph Sunday morning in Healdsburg Hills North, a popular tourist attraction in California’s wine country.