Santa Rosa, California, residents evacuated at a moment's notice as fires approached

ABC News' Matt Gutman tours the "apocalyptic" aftermath of wildfires in Santa Rosa.
8:35 | 10/10/17

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Transcript for Santa Rosa, California, residents evacuated at a moment's notice as fires approached
Is what's left of this neighborhood near Coffey park in Santa Rosa California. Obviously the first thing you see is this car that's what drew is here today clearly there was some sort of major explosion here that fire burned sell hot. It everything come busted so this car we don't think it was a gas tank explosion. We believe there is something else that just flipped it right on top. Of its hood. I I don't even know what this thing is but it's all over the place and if you look down on the ground. We've seen and you can see. Shell casings people of had ammo and weapons in their house and everything here exploded now. What you take a little bit of a look with me into this neighborhood we're gonna go over this driveway. This is a very nice neighborhood green lawns and two story homes. And everywhere you look. It is utter devastation. The scene here is apocalyptic now this goes on for block after block after block. Things are still smoldering here in some very. Disconcerting news from law enforcement they say that there are over a 150. People still missing right now. Expect the death told to rise and when you look around. It is easy to understand why no one of the things that really distinguishes. This fire is well there two things really but. The first is that it went through the heart of major community Sarah rose up. Everything you see around me this is a community of a 175000. People it is a small city and for all intents and purposes and that fire. Raids through not only that hills coming down in here. But right around the city's hospitals it engulf the major hotel Hilton hotel it took down Kmart strip malls restaurants. Left to nothing in its wake and when you look at the cars here you understand if people did not have time to get out many people left their cars or thickened it it probably would be back home. Obviously that was not the case. And in so many cases from the eyewitnesses and survivors that we spoke to they left literally. The clothes on their backs some of the managing to take out essential documents may be jewelry. The one of the most heart wrenching moments that we experienced yesterday was. But two or three houses down and will be named Chris pond. Let hurt her. Before I saw her we refugees driving around in a time lapse video of everything. And she was digging in the rubble with their hands she's wearing latex gloves and in. Did did the latex federated burned right through her fingers her shoes had melted off the shoes looking for her family heir looms. She was crying hysterically they are in the rubble on able. To find which she was looking for because everything was so incredibly charred. Now. What also distinguishes this fire and what made it's so ferocious. Is those wind speed to talk about fifty miles an hour and that's. Why it's swept through here with such incredible speed why so many people did have time to get out. And some of these videos you see people driving through it looked like funnels of fire they the embers like a blizzard in front of their cars. Really frightening stuff and law enforcement officials tell us that they tried to get people out as quickly as possible. But in some cases it's simply wasn't time they went knocking on doors the use sirens they use that the PA system on this cruisers to get people out of their homes. But with those wind speeds at fifty miles an hour. There was not much they can do in that is why they expect the death told to rise. Not dissuaded his sense of how we do what we do this morning for Good Morning America we had a number of crews we had one of a car shooting a wide shot we had lights everywhere. But there are no facilities here there's there's electricity there's nothing so everything you want to she you have to shoot yourself and you just continue to look. In his direction and you see the devastation. And that's what is so surprising you know sometimes there are fires there forest fires and we'll show burnt down campgrounds or. Obviously a farce that still burning and that is a loss but. We see the extent did this and. AB can can come a couple of feet farther me it's just endless and it. That's another street and another one beyond it and literally in every direction that we will take you you'll see. Block after block of completely destroyed homes nothing. Nothing in this area survive and you can seat. Some of the debris still smoldering there now I talked about the ferocity. Of the explosion the heat. That it caused and that firestorm. Blew debris right up into the trees are elf procurement and can see that but that appears to be citing. From somebody's house now how it got up there is as much of a mystery is how that car flipped over on its top but obviously. The force of the wind or whatever explosion detonated. Some of the debris and houses and cars here Ott was forceful enough to simply. Shred Holmes and halt pieces well into the trees of their that's gotta be at least forty feet fifty feet up in the year. Now it is going to take a long time for this place to recover law enforcement officials tell us. It'll be years before this place comes back to normal and this is a middle class community the mayor. Lives somewhere in this chart mats that you see yourself really hit that the heart the guts of this community. Now one of the problems for law enforcement right now. Is that a lot of these roads aren't really bad shape their nails or pieces of metal from the explosions everywhere there bullets on the ground. Transformers have blown their sort of dangling out in the air they're very concerned about that. Power lines are down to just getting around these neighborhoods to making sure that there aren't people still trapped. Or Tim recovered the bodies is going to be difficult that as this fire continues to burn. About 75000 acres have burned so far that is about twice the size of Washington DC and some of the flames reached ten stories high. Odds of that as with firefighters had to contend with and you know we are driving around here last night. And it was shocking how few firefighters we sell to others that Hilton hotel imagined completely ablaze and. Normally you would see firefighters trying to put it out because. Their concern is the amber to go up the trees the trees catch fire they catch. Under roof work singles and that starts of the fires but they were so strapped. That they were just trying to protect the buildings that they could to save the essential buildings of this community. Like the hospital. Basically everything a round. Major hospital here in Santa Rosa Kaiser permanent it was burned. Hospital was evacuated 130 people taken out and there are some stunning images of patients being wheeled out on gurneys staff member surrounding those gurneys as they're being wheeled out holding. I v.s just to make sure that the patients remained stable. They are evacuated to hospitals don't nobody major injuries of any the people. Who were evacuated in truly. A heroic effort on the part of firefighters and police to get people out hot as quickly as they did again. The issue with this fire has been the speed with which moved giving people so little opportunity to get out of these communities. And you know again when he talked to then it's just it's heartbreaking to hear these stories on a give you one more before we sign off. There's a single mother nurse a block over there. And down. She'd worked all or life to buy a house he bought it 2009. Scott one son and the only thing that they managed to salvage. Were these two concrete tablets. Blocks it they had planted in the backyard with a hand prints of her son nine years ago it hurts and in the other block. It said I loved then have been loves mom. And that was uplifting than that they could at least find back but everything else was gone. And people are very very concerned for their livelihoods here again this is not gotten an I'm in Santa Rosa California the site. Of probably the worst fire at least in this area is being considered were the worst fires in California history. We know of at least eleven deaths in northern California. Many many thousands of acres burned. A 150 people missing and many more people are expected to a fall to inspire and to be trapped somewhere in this rubble. Again Matt Gutman ABC news thanks for watching.

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

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