Wildfires cause Californians to flee, sift through burned homes

Residents raced through walls of fire in search of safety only to later return to find their homes reduced to charred rubble or loved ones who didn't make it out.
7:29 | 10/12/17

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Transcript for Wildfires cause Californians to flee, sift through burned homes
What are you supposed to do? Everybody I've ever known, everybody I grew up with, everybody's house is gone. Reporter: Brady Harvel grew up in the heart of what is now a moon scape. In the Iraq war veteran's palm is the cherished sliver of steel he came searching for. Your personal dog tags? The ones I deployed with. All burned up. I gave them to my dad. He had them hanging in his man cave. You got goosebumps right now. I do, it's crazy. It's mind blowing. Reporter: Tonight, house of californians are sifting through the charred remains of their houses. Here's my neighbor's house. Reporter: Others are still fleeing the onslaught of wildfires which erupted on Sunday and have been wreaking havoc on the state since. This dramatic video showing residents fleeing these apocalyptic scenes. This is insane. This is my neighborhood. In flames. Reporter: Driving through tunnels of fire in search of safety. Completely in flames. Let's go! At what point did you realize you needed to get out? Pretty much as I was driving through and patting the other cars and started to get real hot in my vehicle. Reporter: Hospital patients whisked away on gurneys as flamed marched toward them. These fires are literally burning faster than firefighters can run. Reporter: Tonight as the inferno continues to spread, prompting more mandatory evacuations, thousands more must make an exodus. There are still firefighters putting out hot spots behind me at this mobile home park. When you get up close it's gutting to see the burned remains of possessions people probably held most dear. Like this king James bible. When you look at the density of the debris here, how hard it is to pick your way through here, you can understand why minutes ago, officials here located a victim and why they tell us that beneath the melted roofs of those mobile homes, they expect to find more. Bob Tunis' mother's home at journey's end trailer park was in the path of the firestorm. Woke up, fire engulfing everything, they already evacu evacuated the neighborhood. Reporter: His mother never may have made it out. His sister sister arriving moments later. Over 170,000 acres, fourly four times the size of Washington, D.C., have burned. Over 20,000 people displaced. Over 3,500 structures damaged or destroyed. At least 21 lives lost. And hundreds still missing. The sky was filled with what seemed like a billion fireflies all the embers. Reporter: Most of the wildfires wreaking havoc in the northern part of the state where there are 19 active fires. Monday night another fire broke out hundreds of miles south in Anaheim hills. Setting the backdrop for these haunting images of disneyland. All of that eye-stinging smoke visible from space. And on the blistered Earth, stories of unimaginable loss. This is pretty much all that I can see that's left. Reporter: In napa county, brothers chuck and Mike Rippy sift through what's left of their parents' home. Fire doesn't care. Reporter: They told my colleague Nick watt the fire took something from them they could never replace, the very foundation of their family. Your dad was 100? They'd been married 75 years. She was paralyzed. She had a stroke about five years ago. There was no way she was getting out of this fire. 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: The brothers now finding solace in their parents' undying love. And they died together. They never wanted to leave each other. Reporter: Efforts to track down the missing are under way across the state. And one person who was lost in the chaos was Steve liner. We met his brother Al who had been searching for him for 48 hours already. I am very wor ied about him. Reporter: They served in Vietnam together. Al hasn't been able to get into the destruction zone. So we drove him in. I've called him god knows how many times. The phones are all down. Reporter: And then on his brother's street -- Is that him? That's him! I've been looking for two days for you guys! Reporter: The worry and wait dissolving into brothers linking arms. Firefighters around the state are working nonstop to slow the inferno and prevent further loss of life and property. We have folks on the fire lines starting their third shift right now that have not been relieved. Reporter: Authorities warn the death count is almost certain to rise. Firefighters are so strapped, they're not worried about the flames inside but what they are concerned about are those embers flying out of it. Those embers blasted across northern California by gale-force winds, fitting with this hellscape, called diablo winds. Tonight these winds are forecasted to strengthen yet again, up to 40 miles an hour in places. You're pushing back the fire and moving on to the next house? Next house. Reporter: ABC's Linzie Janis was with some of the firefighters. Firefighters are desperately trying to protect houses from these flames. These helicopters dropping water on the fire. Reporter: Another challenge for firefighters, water supply is running low. We don't have a lot of water. So the water supply is difficult. So it's just better to let it burn. Reporter: Some residents resorting to fighting back the blazes with garden hoses. So sad. It's so sad. Reporter: And in areas where the flames have been extinguished, residents now face the grim task of returning to lives and livelihoods destroyed. This is where all the wines were made and fermented. Reporter: In sonoma county, one of the country's biggest wine regions, the owner of paradise ridge winery returning to the remains of his building. It happened quick. People were evacuated off of our property before midnight. Reporter: He says he watched the flames engulf the property using a security camera app on his phone. It's still too early for experts to estimate the damage this fire will do to these vineyards. But it has the potential to be fiscally devastating. At least five wineries have been significantly damaged or totally destroyed. At least 11 others have reported damage. In Santa Rosa, we heard Chris pond and her husband Mike before we saw them. She was so desperate, she clung to a stranger for a hug. As they frantically search through the rubble for Chris' most beloved possession -- My wedding ring. Reporter: Her wedding ring. We helped them in that exhaustive archeological dig for over an hour. Her shoes melted. Our hands burned. Burnt your fingers. Reporter: She did find some curios. But not that ring. Earlier today, we got a message from Chris. She spent another day digging and finally this morning she messaged us that she found that ring. Tiny items burnished by fire offering at least a sliver of hope tonight. I'm Matt Gutman in Santa Rosa,

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

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