Firefighters battle blazes and residents evacuate in California
Christina Hanson of Santa Rosa called family members at 1:30 a.m. Monday to report the raging fire near her hill home. It’s the last the family heard of her, a relative said late Tuesday afternoon. The family is asking for help in finding her.
Hanson, who is wheelchair-bound with spina bifida, lived in a cottage on her dad’s property in the hills near Santa Rosa. Her cousin Frank Vinculado said relatives have been trying to reach her since then, but her cell phone no longer responds.
Her father, who lived in the main house on the property, is in the hospital with third-degree burns, Vinculado said. A neighbor found him near the property during the fire. Family members said he may have been on his way to get her when he ran into trouble.
“We think her dad went down to get her and they got separated,” Vinculado said.
Hanson was among the people reported missing amid massive Northern California fires that swept through numerous communities.
In Sonoma County, that number ballooned at one point to 240, but officials said Tuesday afternoon that 57 of those people had reconnected with family and friends. Cell phone service has been out in some areas, making it harder for people to reconnect with loved ones in some cases.
Sonoma County spokeswoman Hannah Euser said officials are encouraging people who believe loved ones are looking for them to mark themselves as safe on the safeandwell.org website.
The confirmed death toll crept up to 17 people Tuesday evening, and is likely to rise, officials said, as emergency crews sift through more than 1,000 destroyed homes and other structures around the north state.
At least 11 people have been listed as dead in the Tubbs fire that ripped through Santa Rosa and destroyed entire housing tracts. Two are reported dead in Napa, another in Yuba County and three in Mendocino County in the Redwood Valley Fire.
A 100-year-old man and his 99-year-old wife, Charles and Sara Rippey, were reported dead in their Napa area home near the Silverado Country Club on Monday, according to a KTVU television report. The couple’s nanny had called their son, according to news reports, saying the house was on fire. She was unable to get them out.
A Yuba County woman, identified by neighbors as Sandy Picciano, died just after midnight Monday when she apparently drove her pickup off a road amid smoky conditions while trying to flee the fire in Loma Rica. County officials confirmed a death in Loma Rica, but had not released the person’s identity as of Tuesday evening.