Death toll in California wildfire rises to 21

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More than 20,000 people were ordered to evacuate as of Tuesday night.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday night two more people have died in the Tubbs Fire. "That's the way it is with a warming climate".

President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved a major disaster declaration, clearing the way for federal help with the disaster, saying that "the federal government will stand with the people of California".

Entire towns in the state's wine-producing region have been abandoned.

"We are literally looking at explosive vegetation", Mr Pimlott said. "This is just pure devastation".

Authorities do not know the exact cause of these fires, which began Sunday.

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More recently, California levied a $1.6 billion state penalty for a 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed about three dozen homes in San Bruno, a suburb of San Francisco. By Thursday morning, it had burned almost 28,000 acres.

One mixed team, led by a County Fire battalion chief and a strike team trainee, is made up of an engine from County Fire, two from Santa Barbara city, one from Carpinteria/Summerland and one from Montecito. At least nine of the deaths have been attributed to that fire.

In Mendocino - a coastal county famed for its pristine beaches and redwoods - the fire "was random and cruel", said Alison de Grassi, a longtime resident who said she had never seen anything like it.

They said 8,000 firefighters and other personnel were battling the blazes and more resources were pouring in from Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. Pimlott said pilots couldn't see what was beyond their windows, much less what was on the ground.

Firefighters were locked in a fight with the wind-whipped blazes, but heading into a fourth day of the struggle they appeared no closer to containing them.

But one official after another spoke of the long road ahead in nearly apocalyptic terms.

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In the aftermath, the SF Business Times brings us this montage of mostly drone footage of Santa Rosa, and the burned areas around Coffey Park and the Fountaingrove neighborhood, including the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel, which was completely destroyed.

"I did a double take", Thron told SFGATE.

That message was hard to hear Monday, when audio issues with Cal OES' live Facebook feed drew angry-face emojis and frustrated comments, like this one from a Facebook user: "Please repeat so we can get this".

Describing the fight against a multidimensional event, Cox laid out firefighters' priorities: "To protect people's lives and get them out of harm's way, to protect the structures and also to build containment lines where we do have the opportunities of engagement".

By Wednesday, those technical issues had been resolved.

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