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Wildfires torch California wine country leaving 17 dead


The death toll from some of California’s worst ever wildfires rose to 17 as thousands of firefighters battled Wednesday to bring the infernos under control.

The fires which have devastated California’s wine country are already among the deadliest ever in the western US state and officials warned they expect the toll to go up.

Sonoma County, where 11 deaths have been reported, has been among the hardest hit with entire neighborhoods reduced to ashes in the city of Santa Rosa, the county seat of 175,000 people.

Around 200 people have been reported missing in Sonoma County but the county sheriff’s department said it expected that most of them would eventually be located.

Thousands of people have been left homeless, according to the authorities, and 25,000 people have evacuated their homes in Sonoma County alone to escape the fast-moving fires.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said Wednesday that firefighters were battling 22 wildfires that have burned nearly 170,000 acres (68,800 hectares).

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