California is currently being consumed by 17 wildfires. It has been reported at least 17 people were killed due to the extreme weather.
Firefighters are struggling to contain the current blazes as stronger winds, up to 50 mph with 10% humidity, threaten to create new fires.
20,000 people have been forced from their homes in the wine country of California, according to Reuters.
“The potential for new fires that could grow exponentially as these fires did in such a short time period is there,” said Lynne Tolmachoff. Tolmachoff is a spokeswoman for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The NYPost reports: High winds had faded earlier Tuesday and humidity increased, helping an operation that has drawn resources from around the state and neighboring Nevada.
But authorities warned that a northern wind known as a Diablo would return, allowing only a brief window for smoke-eaters to carve clearings to stop flames from spreading to populated areas, the Washington Post reported.
More than 2,000 buildings have been destroyed after flames swept through densely populated neighborhoods, causing residents to flee in the middle of the night.
One couple had to jump into their pool and took occasional gasps for air as flames lapped at their backs, the Washington Post reported.
Washington Post also reported that 180 people are missing in Sonoma County and authorities have now issued a mandatory evacuation due to the threatening fires.
Dozens of shelters have been filled due to fleeing residents. Over 25,000 people have left behind their homes not knowing what they will come back to.
Seven counties north of San Francisco have evacuated and these people may have to spend weeks away.
About 155 people were still missing in Sonoma County, although 45 others had been found and some of those unaccounted for may be due to confusion surrounding evacuations, according to Reuters.
The city of Santa Rosa was particularly hard hit by the so-called Tubbs Fire.
Irene Fonzeca and her husband, Luis, who are in a shelter, woke up to raging fire nearby that was being blown toward their home on Monday.
“We have no idea what’s there or if there’s anything to go back to,” Irene said.
She revealed emotions were high in the shelter stating, “People are crying hugging helping each other. It’s devastating.”