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California Wildfires Kill 15; Trump Declares Major Disaster


Damage to winemaking vats and barrels at the production house of Paradise Ridge Winery from a wildfire are seen, Oct. 10, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California.

President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in Northern California, where wildfires have killed at least 15 and burned thousands of homes and stores to the ground.

The declaration freed up millions of dollars in emergency federal aid.

Trump said he let Governor Jerry Brown know that "the federal government will stand with the people of California. And we will be there for you in this time of terrible tragedy and need."

As of late Tuesday afternoon, 17 large wildfires were burning in an area north of San Francisco that's famous for its vineyards and wine. Firefighters said cooler weather was helping them make progress, but that high winds and dry conditions were still causing a problem.

This Oct. 9, 2017, satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows smoke from several fires, noted in red, burning in California, with winds generally blowing from east to west. From the top are the Tubbs and other fires in the Santa Rosa and Napa Valley wine country north of the San Francisco Bay area, top left, several smaller fires in the Sierra Nevada, right center to lower right, and the Canyon 2 fire in Orange County east of Los Angeles, bottom.
This Oct. 9, 2017, satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows smoke from several fires, noted in red, burning in California, with winds generally blowing from east to west. From the top are the Tubbs and other fires in the Santa Rosa and Napa Valley wine country north of the San Francisco Bay area, top left, several smaller fires in the Sierra Nevada, right center to lower right, and the Canyon 2 fire in Orange County east of Los Angeles, bottom.

More than 46,000 hectares (114,000 acres) have been destroyed so far, and thousands of people have been left homeless, many fleeing only with the clothes on their backs.

Among the dead were a 100-year-old man and his 99-year-old wife, who were unable to get out of their Napa home in time.

The cause of the wildfires was unknown, but extremely strong and dry Santa Ana winds blow across the valley from the mountains in the late summer and early fall, posing a very high risk for California wildfires.

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