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Death toll from Northern California fires jumps to 31; names of 10 victims released

Fire crews began to make slow progress against wildfires that have killed at least 31 people in Northern California’s wine country as officials continued the grim search for more bodies amid the ashes.

In Santa Rosa, the hardest hit by the fires, officials said they were stunned by the scale of the destruction. An estimated 2,834 homes were destroyed in the city of Santa Rosa alone, along with about 400,000 square feet of commercial space, Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey said in a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Flames left entire neighborhoods and commercial districts in ruins and even destroyed the city’s newest fire station, on Fountaingrove Parkway.

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano told reporters that another person was found dead in his county as search crews and cadaver dogs began sifting through debris for the first time Thursday.

Later Thursday, officials confirmed the discovery of several more bodies. Of the 31 deaths, 17 were in Sonoma County, eight were in Mendocino County, four were in Yuba County and two were in Napa County, according to Sonoma County, Cal Fire and Yuba County officials.

Taken together, the death toll from the wildfires in the wine country has now exceeded that of the 1991 Oakland Hills fire, which totaled 25. The Cedar fire, which swept through San Diego County in 2003, killed 15 people and destroyed more than 2,800 structures.

Late Thursday, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office identified 10 people who died in that county. 


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