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  1. ITV Report

Trump vows to help California as death toll from wildfires reaches 17

  • Video report by ITV News reporter Martha Fairlie

President Donald Trump has pledged federal help for northern California after wildfires devastated several counties in the wine region, leaving 17 people dead and at least 180 injured.

Speaking to California Governor Jerry Brown, Trump said: "We will be there for you in this time of terrible tragedy and need."

Brown, who declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada and Orange counties, asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help local services battle 18 blazes across the state.

Some 2,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed, and 20,000 residents have been evacuated. More than 200 missing-person reports have been filed with the Sonoma County sheriff in recent days, though around 45 people have subsequently been located.

Flames from a wildfire burn a home in Anaheim Hills. Credit: PA

The fires, which stretch across 57,000 acres, started on Sunday and Monday, feeding on dry conditions and whipped up by ferocious winds. Mandatory evacuations were ordered on Sunday, leading to long queues at petrol stations as people tried to flee.

Smoke from Sonoma County extended 60 miles south to San Francisco.

A burning building at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel in Santa Rosa. Credit: PA

One person died in the Redwood Complex fire in Mendocino County, according to Mendocino County Sheriff spokesperson Capt. Greg Van Patten said on Monday.

Two people died in the Atlas Fire in Napa County, according to CalFire, while the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office has reported 11 deaths in total.

"Officers are still searching for people to evacuate and rescue," said Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano on Monday, noting that more bodies will likely be found.

Fire burns from an open gas valve near a pool in Santa Rosa. Credit: PA

Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 people, was hit hard on Monday, the blaze consuming homes and business and forcing schools and hospitals to evacuate.

Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann warned that low humidity and scant resources meant emergency services could do little to stop the fires.

"As of right now, with these conditions, we can't get in front of this fire and do anything about the forward progress," he said.

A man rides a bicycle past burned down homes in Santa Rosa. Credit: PA

Jeff Okrepkie, who fled his Santa Rosa home as the fires encroached, later returned to find the building was completely demolished.

"We live in the valley, where it's concrete and strip malls and hotels and supermarkets," he told Associated Press.

"The last thing you think is a forest fire is going to come and wipe us out."

In Napa, Jesus Torres said he left when the sky "turned red."

"We gathered up a few of our things and our pets and headed out to our car," he told local broadcaster KPIX. "There was smoke all over the area."

A fire burns in the Anaheim Hills. Credit: PA