Massive wildfires sweeping through California have killed at least 21 people and damaged thousands of homes, businesses and other buildings, authorities said, ABC News reported.
Firefighters were still battling 22 wildfires in multiple California counties Wednesday morning. Intensified by strong winds, the flames have charred about 170,000 acres of land, damaged or destroyed at least 3,500 structures and forced nearly 20,000 residents to evacuate, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The causes of the fires are unknown.
More than 2,700 firefighters and support personnel are battling the fires, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties in Northern California.
With firefighters stretched thin throughout the state, federal agencies as well as neighboring Nevada and nearby Washington state are assisting with resources.
St. Joseph Health said 168 patients have been treated, many for burns and smoke inhalation, at three of its hospitals in Napa and Sonoma counties as of Monday night.
An additional 380 people were missing in Sonoma County as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the sheriff's office.
Meanwhile, at least 7,000 people were without power Wednesday in Napa County alone.
With mandatory evacuation orders still in place, many residents in the affected areas have been warned not to return to their homes until further notice.
"Life is more important than property," Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said at a press conference Tuesday.
He said he thinks the wildfires will be "one of the worst natural disasters in California history."