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At least 1,500 structures destroyed in Northern California wildfires

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A California fire official said at least 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed in wildfires that have ripped through the state’s wine country.

The Tubbs Fire in Napa County has scorched 25,000 acres and is 0 percent contained.

The Nuns Fire in Sonoma County has burned 300 acres and is 0 percent contained.

The Atlas Fire in Napa County has burned 200 acres and is 0 percent contained.

A state fire official called the damage estimates conservative and said the fires were burning throughout an eight-county swath of Northern California, including Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

Numerous people had been hurt and some were missing, although no estimates were immediately available, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered after the blazes broke out late Sunday. Long lines formed at gas stations when many families heeded a middle-of-the-night call to get out.

“It was an inferno like you’ve never seen before,” said Marian Williams, who caravanned with neighbors before dawn as one of the wildfires reached the vineyards and ridges at her small Sonoma County town of Kenwood.

Williams could feel the heat of her fire through the car as she fled.

“Trees were on fire like torches,” she said.

With downed trees or flames blocking some routes, Sonoma County residents struggled to figure out what roads to take.

Fires also burned just to the east in the Napa County as well as in Yuba, Butte and Nevada counties — all north of the state capital. The firefighting agency Cal Fire tweeted that as many as 8,000 homes were threatened in Nevada County, which lies on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.

Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said there were no reports of injuries or deaths, although the fires had burned more than 68 square miles. Crews had not yet been able to contain a fire heading toward downtown Napa.

“Right now, with these conditions, we can’t get ahead of this fire and do anything about the forward progress,” Biermann said. He said there were seven large fires burning in Lake, Sonoma and Napa counties.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.
Smoke was thick in San Francisco, 60 miles south of the Sonoma County fire.

John Dean was driving to his Sonoma County home early Monday when he saw a house on fire along the road. Soon he saw more houses engulfed in flames.

“I mean blazing, falling down on fire,” he said.

Dean sped to his home in Kenwood, alerted neighbors and fled to the town of Sonoma. He was one of hundreds of evacuees who streamed into a 24-hour Safeway market overnight, while authorities set up an official evacuation center.

Maureen McGowan was house-sitting for a brother near Kenwood, and said both of the homes on his property were on fire when she left. At the Safeway, she pointed to her feet, still in slippers. She had fled so fast that she hadn’t put on her shoes.

Officials did not yet have a count on how many properties were affected, either by the fire directly or by evacuations, said Belia Ramos, chairwoman of the Napa County Board of Supervisors.

“We’re focusing on making evacuations and trying to keep people safe. We are not prepared to start counting,” she said shortly after sunrise.

The “tremendous” wind gusts were making the fire unpredictable, she said. “It’s something that we’re having to be very cautious about.”

Ann Dubay, a spokeswoman for the Sonoma County Emergency Operations Center, said the area where the largest fire started was relatively rural but the flames “went through many, many neighborhoods,” and authorities did not know how many structures were gone.

Emergency lines were inundated with callers reporting smoke, prompting officials to ask that the public “only use 911 if they see actual unattended flames, or are having another emergency.”

Business owner Andy Lahiji stood before a burned-out warehouse where he said he had lost his inventory of furniture and other property. He said it took firetrucks ages to arrive Monday morning.

“They said, ‘We have so many other places to go, you have to wait.’ And then when they came, they had only a couple of guys,” he told the station. “I feel very sad. I’m glad nobody got hurt. Hopefully insurance takes care of it.”

The National Weather Service said widespread wind gusts between 35 mph and 50 mph were observed in the north San Francisco Bay region and isolated spots hit 70 mph. The winds were expected to subside at midday.

Community centers, the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and other local centers were opened for evacuees.

Disaster

Mount Sinabung volcano erupts, spewing a 5,000-metre ash into sky

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Jakarta, Feb 19: The Mount Sinabung volcano in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island erupted on Monday, spewing columns of ash as high as five km into the sky. 

Head of National Volcanology Agency Kasbani stated the hot ash slides were 4.9 km to the southeast of the crater and 3.5 km to the east.

“This is the highest eruption for this year,” he told Xinhua news agency.

However, Kasbani said the ash from the volcano does not disturb flights.

“The ash does not head to Medan city and compounds of Kualanamu international airport,” he further added.

Mount Sinabung volcano had been quiet for four centuries before erupting in 2010. The volcano had also erupted in 2014 and 2016.

WeForNews 

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Major 7.5 magnitude earthquake hits Mexico

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People react after an earthquake shook buildings in Mexico City, Mexico on February 16, 2018. (PC- Reuters)

Mexico City, Feb 17: A powerful earthquake shook southern Mexico on Saturday as people fled out of buildings in capital Mexico City when the ground was shaking.

According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake was measured 7.5 on the Richter scale 4 km south of Pinotepa de Don Luis with the epicenter at a depth of 10 km, Xinhua reported.

Strong tremors were felt in Mexico City and quake alarms were triggered in the city.

In a major street near the capital’s Chinatown, the traffic was temporarily halted as crowds of people are gathering outside, checking updates about the earthquake through cellphones.

IANS

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Six people confirmed dead in 6.5-magnitude Taiwan earthquake

A power outage affected 1,900 households and 40,000 households are without water, according to Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center.

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A strong 6.5-magnitude earthquake jolted waters near Taiwan’s east coast on Tuesday night, killing at least six people and injuring over 200.

The death toll stood at six as of 8:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday with at least 258 others injured in the strong, 6.5-magnitude earthquake, Taiwan’s emergency operation center said in a statement.

The statement said 67 people were still unaccounted for.

The head of Hualien Tzu Chi General Hospital said that six injured tourists from the Chinese mainland are being treated in the hospital, one of whom suffered a severe foot injury while the other is in critical condition.

Local media said that a 45-year-old woman from the Chinese mainland, who was seriously injured in the earthquake, died at 9:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday. However, authorities have yet to confirm the news.

After the earthquake, Director of Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council Zhang Zhijun had a telephone conversation with the head of Hualien, promising to provide emergency assistance and rescue teams.

An emergency response mechanism has also been initiated by the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

According to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC), the earthquake struck waters near Hualien County at around 11:50 p.m. Tuesday at a depth of 11 kilometers.

Photos and videos circulating on social media show collapsed buildings, tilted structures and damaged roads and bridges.

Local media said four buildings including the Marshal Hotel, Yun Tsui building and two residential buildings were among the damaged structures.

The earthquake was followed by a series of aftershocks including several measuring over 5-magnitude.

VCG Photo

A power outage affected 1,900 households and 40,000 households are without water, according to Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center.

About 40 roads have been damaged and two bridges, including Qixing Tan, sealed off.

Train service to the city center is still available in Hualien but at a slower speed, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Source : CGTN

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