Wildfires burning across northern California’s wine country claim at least 15 lives

California’s,Oct11FAST-MOVING wildfires burning across northern California’s wine country have claimed at least 15 lives and destroyed an estimated 1500 homes and commercial buildings.

Among the dead were 100-year-old Charles Rippey and his 98-year-old wife Sara Rippey.

The couple, married for 75 years, couldn’t escape their burning Silverado Resort, Napa home.

“The only thing worse would have been if one survived without the other,” their daughter, Ruby Gibney, told Oakland television station KTVU.

More than 100 people have been injured, 150 are missing and 3000 remain in shelters, with numbers set to rise.

A home burns in Fountaingrove, Santa Rosa. Picture: AP

A home burns in Fountaingrove, Santa Rosa. Picture: APSource:AP

The sun rises through a cloud of smoke after a wildfire swept through the area in Sonoma County. Picture: AP

The sun rises through a cloud of smoke after a wildfire swept through the area in Sonoma County. Picture: APSource:AP

A firefighter pulls a hose in front of a burning house in the Napa wine region of California. Picture: AFP

A firefighter pulls a hose in front of a burning house in the Napa wine region of California. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Flames have spread across more than 46,500 hectares since the fires broke out on Sunday, local time, but firefighters are taking advantage of cooler temperatures, decreased winds and coastal fog to try to make headway against the fires.

North of San Francisco, the blazes reduced houses to ashes in several communities.

The city of Santa Rosa was particularly hard hit by the so-called Tubbs Fire, which damaged a Hilton hotel and destroyed a mobile home park. The flames were fanned by high temperatures and dry conditions, displacing tens of thousands of residents and forcing schools and at least two hospitals in Sonoma County to close.

Steve Crawford, a CalFire operations chief, said at a briefing for law enforcement and utility officials on Tuesday morning that a change in the weather could help firefighters.

This combination of photos shows the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa before and after the fires swept through. Picture: AP

This combination of photos shows the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa before and after the fires swept through.

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