Transcript for California declared a federal disaster area
It was right here in Santa Rosa, a massive fire erupted in the middle of the night. People running fir their lives, leaving everything behind. Before the fire, this suburban neighborhood looked like any other. Tonight, just look at the image after. The rows of charred lots where homes once stood. This evening here in California, the wildfires are still burning. The death toll rising. And there are hundreds missing. ABC's senior national correspondent Matt Gutman on the fierce battle at this hour to save lives and homes here in California. Reporter: Tonight, firefighters stretched to the brink, hoping to get an upper hand on some of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in California history. We have folks on the fire lines starting their third shift right now that have not been relieved. Reporter: The fires, out of control, now twice the size of Washington, D.C., and still growing. At least 2,000 structures destroyed, including entire neighborhoods. Shopping centers, restaurants and hotels. This was a Hilton hotel complex. You can feel the intensity of the heat coming off of it. Now firefighters are so stropped, they're not worried about the flames inside, but what their are concerned about is those embers flying out of it. Fire crews in Santa Rosa forced to let homes burn because didn't hbve enough water. We don't have a lot of water, so the water supply is difficult. It's just better to let it burp. Reporter: The fires erupted Sunday night, as strong so-called diablo winds pushed hot, dry air across E California wine country, and exploded in size, now nearly 100,000 acres. When you look at this scene, you get an sense of the explosions that this fire triggered. This engine block belonged to that car. The explosions flipping car after car after car. At least 15 have perished in this inferno. It's with sorrow that I tell you today we have confirmed two fatalities, Charles and Sara Rippey, ages 100 and 98. Reporter: The couple, married 75 years. Today, their son, Mike, helped sift through their home. My father was sleeping in a different room and we found him halfway to her room. And, so, he never made it to her room. But even if he had made it, there was no way he was going to leave her. Reporter: Tonight, nearly 200 people reported missing. One of them, Steve liner. We met his brother, Al, earlier. I'm very worried about him. Reporter: They'd served in Vietnam together. Al hasn't been able to get into the destruction zone. But our press pass gave us access, so we drove him in. I've called him, god knows how many times and the phones are all down. Reporter: Then, turned on his brother's street. Reporter: Is that him? That's him! I've been looking for two days for you guys. Reporter: And then that reunion. Brothers in arms. And Matt joins us live tonight. He is here in California with our team. You've been reporting on the reenforcements that are coming to fight this fight, from as far away as Nevada? Reporter: That's right. The state of California has requested assistance from the U.S. Fire service in Nevada. That, as we learned tonight that there is 0% containment on all the major fires here in northern California, David. Matt Gutman leading us off tonight. Matt, thank you.
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