Fires

Firefighters say they’re beating Northern California blazes; death toll rises to 43

Tubbs Fire aftermath, as seen from above

An aerial view of the Tubbs Fire destruction of the Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa on Thursday, October 12, 2017.
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An aerial view of the Tubbs Fire destruction of the Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa on Thursday, October 12, 2017.

After 10 days of battling wildfires throughout Northern California, firefighters are finally beginning to talk about having the upper hand.

The Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County that destroyed hundreds of homes in Santa Rosa is 91 percent contained and fire personnel said Wednesday they have stopped the blaze’s forward progress. There are still some hot spots within the fire lines.

“The fire is looking real good, so we’re feeling really good about that,” Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner said at a midday press conference.

Still, Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said the death toll in the county has risen by one, to 23. He identified two victims killed in the fires as 81-year-old Monte Neil Kirven of Santa Rosa and Marilyn Carol Ress, 71, of Santa Rosa. At least 43 people have died in the series of fires that have struck Northern California since last week.

“It’s unfortunate we keep adding people to the list (of fatalities),” Giordano said.

Police officers, sheriff’s deputies and 250 search and rescue volunteers are spreading throughout Sonoma County “searching every place that burned” and conducting “targeted searches” for people reported missing, Giordano said.

Giordano said 50 people remain missing in the county. That includes 25 missing people from within the city limits of Santa Rosa. Many of the missing are believed to be homeless.

The sheriff said he flew over fire-damaged areas this week and “could not believe how much damage there is and how many houses are gone.”

“It’s not going away, we’re going to be dealing with it for months and years,” he said.

Elsewhere in the region, the Pocket Fire near Geyserville was 63 percent contained and the Nuns Fire along Highway 12 is 80 percent contained.

In Mendocino County, the Redwood fire that has killed at least eight people is 75 percent contained.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis

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