Raging California wine country wildfires force evacuations

A thick cloud of black smoke rises from a burning junkyard in American Canyon on Sunday

Napa County Board of Supervisors chairwoman Belia Ramos says officials do not yet have a count on how many properties have been affected in the 20,000 acre (8,100 hectare) fire.

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Kurtis Alexander shared footage on Twitter on Monday of both a Hilton hotel and a Kmart on fire in Santa Rosa.

Wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through Northern California early Monday, sending residents on a headlong flight to safety through smoke and flames as homes and businesses burned in wine country. Gov. News footage showed Kaiser Permanente Hospital patients wheeled out on stretchers.

The fire burning in Santa Rosa is believed to have begun late Sunday night near Highway 128 in Napa County and moved down Mark West Road toward Santa Rosa.

Upwards of 300 firefighters are battling blazes in Napa County.

Wind has been a major factor in fanning the flames, with gusts of 46-79 miles per hour causing the fires to spread.

The Atlas Peak Fire in Napa County left more than 50 homes and structures decimated, ABC 10 columnist Dina Kupfer tweeted.

Emergency lines were inundated with callers reporting smoke in the area, prompting officials to ask that the public "only use 911 if they see actual unattended flames, or are having another emergency". The First Baptist Church in Pioneer has opened as a shelter, according to CAL FIRE.

The blazes engulfed acreage in Sonoma and Napa counties as responders worked through the night to fight the fires.

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Authorities have implemented forced evacuations in several rural neighborhoods and worked to clear out hospitals and senior centers in northwestern Santa Rosa.

Mandatory evacuations are in place for Partrick Rd in Napa County.

Early Monday morning, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department said fires had also erupted in Santa Rosa, Windsor and Sebastopol. Those impacted by the fire can also check the Cal Fire website or Nixle for further updates on evacuations.

Forecasters said winds will remain strong on Monday morning but are expected to ease by midday.

Napa Mayor Jill Techel said authorities had to evacuate Montecito Boulevard and Monte Vista Avenue in the city.

"In a situation like this, it is really important that we be the best we can be", he said.

"Trees were ablaze like lights", she said.

If O'Gorman hadn't been coming home from work to wake her family, "we would have been in the house trapped", she said. Multiple structures were also burning on Adobe Canyon Road, east of Kenwood across Highway 12.

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