Death toll rises in California wildfires

At least 23 people have been killed as 22 wildfires continue to burn across multiple California counties, charring about 170,000 acres of land, according to authorities.
4:08 | 10/12/17

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Transcript for Death toll rises in California wildfires
First the threat from those massive wildfires in California. It is growing right now. At least 22 fires burning, thousands more were forces to evacuate. California's top fire official is calling this a critical catastrophic event saying the fires are burning faster than firefighters can run. The scale of the damage is coming into focus right now. Look at this drone footage showing the town of Santa Rosa is laid to waste right there. Our senior national correspondent Matt Gutman is there. Good morning, Matt. Reporter: Good morning, George. When you see those fires on the March you get a sense for why officials are saying there's no hope of stopping them right now. They are only trying to slow them down. There is an army of firefighters out here from a thousand different departments, five different states, now, this was the cardinal Newman high school. You can see what intensity can do to places like this and with the death toll rising to 23 overnight, the focus now is not saving property, it's just saving lives. Officials are calling the inferno a worst case scenario. These fires are just literally burning faster than firefighters can run. Reporter: Overnight the winds picking up speed spreading the fire at a feverish pace. This, a chilling reminder of the brutal conditions the more than 8,000 firefighters face here. As this home burns to the ground, firefighters must give up and focus on saving the houses not yet in flames. And as the fire looms over downtown sonoma, business owners scrambling to save whatever they can. I built 30 years my business and I'm not letting a fire take it. Reporter: Mandatory evacuations turning this riefshging communities into ghost towns. And an eerie silence hanging over many calistoga in the heart of wine country after police went door to door telling everyone in the community of 5,000 to get out now. That advanced warning not a luxury afforded to saernts, 17 miles away. There the fire swept through so fast that many first responders and residents were trapped. This video just shared by Travis Hahn shows his dramatic escape. So many couldn't make it out at all. We arrived at this mobile home park just after Bob Tunis found his mother's body. Probably knocking on her door at 3:00 A.M. Reporter: This embrace with his sister told her what she already feared. I hear the smoke alarms going off, coughing, coughing and I'm telling her I love her and she tells me she's going to die. She can't get out of her house. She's going to die. Reporter: This mobile home park has been reduced to a field of ashes and just minutes ago, a victim was identified here in the rubble. Law enforcement tells us when you look at the tops of those melted mobile homes, you can understand why they believe that there are more victims here. From above, the view nothing but the gray smudged outlines of where so many houses once stood. And when you look at this from up above on that camera there you can see how disastrous this was for the school. 600 kids here and right there you can see air conditioner units that have fallen through and you can make out the file cabinet. All of the school's books and servers destroyed. A sense of what these mangled metal is. School desks and hundreds here. Luckily none of the students were here at the time the fire swept through, but I also want to give you a sense of why this is so dangerous for firefighters to get through these places. There are??nails pretty much everywhere you look. Want to show you something over here too, guys. This -- these were temporarily classrooms, not built to withstand fires like this and essentially melted as the fire swept through here. When you look at the totality here you can understand how affected this community was. Schools, businesses, homes and, of course, lives, guys. We've never seen a fire level an entire town like that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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