Winds ease, rain possible, offering hope in California wildfires

PHOTO: The ruins of houses destroyed by the Tubbs Fire are seen near Fountaingrove Parkway, Oct. 14, 2017 in Santa Rosa, Calif.PlayDavid McNew/Getty Images
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For the nearly 11,000 firefighters battling the towering flames from now 15 wildfires around California, there is finally hope in a chance of rain.

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Despite one less fire, the bone-dry conditions and gusty Diablo Winds still haven't receded, forcing officials to not downgrade the "high fire danger" status, CAL Fire Deputy Incident Commander Chief Barry Biermann said during a press conference in Napa County on Sunday.

As Bierman gave the fire prognosis for the charred region, he stressed that we are "not out of the woods yet," but settled many questions by saying there's been "tremendous progress."

These low humidity, gusty wind conditions continue to mire first responders engaged in the fight to defeat the blazes that have turned to ash so much of the rolling hills that compromise the state's prized wine country.

Meanwhile, emergency vehicles have since returned to Santa Rosa Police headquarters so crews can recuperate, and forecasters predict that Santa Rosa could get a dose of rain by Thursday.

As Northern California's fires get tamed and weather brings possible precipitation, Southern California is seeing Santa Ana winds starting to gain strength.

As a result, officials have placed the region 300 miles south under extreme fire weather warnings as well.

The glimmer of hope comes after emergency personnel carried out mandatory evacuations in Northern California on Saturday and as firefighters fought what had been 16 large wildfires around the state that authorities say left hundreds missing and leveled entire neighborhoods.

On Saturday night, officials announced the death toll increased from 38 to 40.

The blazes -- among the deadliest in the state's history -- have charred more than 217,000 acres of land, forced about 75,000 residents to evacuate and damaged or destroyed at least 5,700 homes and businesses, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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SLIDESHOW: PHOTOS: Wildfires rage through California wine country

Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 in Sonoma County, was among the hardest-hit areas, with at least 2,834 homes, businesses and other buildings destroyed there. Critical infrastructure was also lost in the flames, including the city's fire station, according to Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey.

PHOTO: The ruins of houses destroyed by the Tubbs Fire are seen near Fountaingrove Parkway, Oct. 14, 2017 in Santa Rosa, Calif.David McNew/Getty Images
The ruins of houses destroyed by the Tubbs Fire are seen near Fountaingrove Parkway, Oct. 14, 2017 in Santa Rosa, Calif.

With firefighters stretched thin throughout the Golden State, hundreds of additional fire engines and personnel have been requested from other states to help relieve crews on the front lines and to prepare for the possibility of more blazes, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Most of the fires ignited on the night of Oct. 8 or during the early morning hours of Oct. 9. Since then, several blazes have merged while some have been completely contained. The cause of the wildfires is still under investigation.

PHOTO: CALFIRE firefighter Tim Zanotelli, center, receives instructions from Captain Gary Mattingly, left, while performing a firing operation to prevent the flames from crossing Highway 29, north of Calistoga, Calif., Oct. 12, 2017. Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Polaris
CALFIRE firefighter Tim Zanotelli, center, receives instructions from Captain Gary Mattingly, left, while performing a firing operation to prevent the flames from crossing Highway 29, north of Calistoga, Calif., Oct. 12, 2017.

Here's a roundup of the largest fires still threatening California:

Central LNU Complex

The so-called Tubbs, Pocket and Nuns/Adobe/Norbbom/Pressley/Patrick fires are considered branches of one giant inferno — collectively known as the Central LNU Complex — in Napa and Sonoma counties. Nearly 34,000 structures are threatened, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Additional mandatory evacuation orders went into effect Saturday and Sunday morning for parts of Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa.

Altogether, the fires have destroyed 2,017 structures and damaged 63 others.

  • Tubbs fire: 35,270 acres burned in Napa County; 44 percent contained as of Sunday morning; at least 571 structures destroyed; responsible for a majority of the fire-related deaths this week.

  • Pocket fire: 11,246 acres acres burned in Sonoma County; 25 percent contained as of Sunday morning.

  • Nuns/Adobe/Norbbom/Pressley/Patrick fires: 46,104 acres burned in Sonoma and Napa counties; 25 percent contained as of Sunday morning.

  • PHOTO: Fire trucks monitor a fire that threatens the Oakmont community along Highway 12 in Santa Rosa, Oct. 13, 2017. Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/Polaris
    Fire trucks monitor a fire that threatens the Oakmont community along Highway 12 in Santa Rosa, Oct. 13, 2017.

    Southern LNU Complex

    The Atlas fire makes up another huge blaze, known as the Southern LNU Complex, in Napa and Solano counties that threatens 5,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

  • Atlas fire: 50,383 acres burned in Napa and Solano counties; 45 percent contained as of Sunday morning; 234 structures destroyed; 30 structures damaged.

  • PHOTO: Firefighters battle a wildfire near Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 14, 2017. Jim Urquhart/Reuters
    Firefighters battle a wildfire near Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 14, 2017.

    Mendocino Lake Complex

    The Redwood/Potter fires and the Sulphur fire make up a giant blaze, known as the Mendocino Lake Complex, in Lake and Mendocino counties that collectively threatens 1,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

    Altogether, the two fires have destroyed 544 structures and damaged 40 structures while threatening another 1,000.

  • Redwood/Potter fires: 34,000 acres burned in Mendocino County; 30 percent contained as of Sunday morning.

  • Sulphur fire: 2,207 acres burned in Lake County; 70 percent contained as of Sunday morning.

  • PHOTO: Firefighter Chris Oliver walks between grape vines as a helicopter drops water over a wildfire burning near a winery, Oct. 14, 2017, in Santa Rosa, Calif. Jae C. Hong/AP
    Firefighter Chris Oliver walks between grape vines as a helicopter drops water over a wildfire burning near a winery, Oct. 14, 2017, in Santa Rosa, Calif.

    Wind Complex

    The Cascade, La Porte and Lobo fires make up one a blaze in Butte, Nevada and Yuba counties, collectively known as the Wind Complex, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

    Altogether, the three fires have destroyed 365 structures and damaged 57 others.

  • Cascade fire: 10,120 acres burned in Yuba County; 75 percent contained as of Sunday morning.

  • La Porte fire: 6,151 acres burned in Butte County; 80 percent contained as of Sunday morning.

  • Lobo fire: 821 acres burned in Nevada County; 93=6 percent contained as of Sunday morning.

  • PHOTO: A Cal Fire Fresno Firefighter monitors wildfire activity in front of a home, Oct. 13, 2017, in Glen Ellen , Calif.Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
    A Cal Fire Fresno Firefighter monitors wildfire activity in front of a home, Oct. 13, 2017, in Glen Ellen , Calif.

    Other major fires

  • Canyon 2 fire: 9,217 acres burned in Southern California's Orange County; 70 percent contained as of Saturday morning.

  • Cherokee fire: 8,417 acres burned in Butte County; 75 percent contained as of Friday night.

  • PHOTO: Fire totally engulfed the main structure at the Paras Vineyards as the Nun fire continues to burn west of downtown Napa, Calif., Oct. 10, 2017. Peter DaSilva/Polaris
    Fire totally engulfed the main structure at the Paras Vineyards as the Nun fire continues to burn west of downtown Napa, Calif., Oct. 10, 2017.

    PHOTO: An American flag flies over the remains of a Coffey Park home following the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa, Calif.Noah Berger/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris
    An American flag flies over the remains of a Coffey Park home following the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa, Calif.

    ABC News' M.L. Nestel, Max Golembo, Jenna Harrison, Marilyn Heck, Alex Stone, Jonah Lustig and Alex Stone contributed to this report.

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