SANTA ROSA, Calif. (CBSNewYork) — It’s been the deadliest week of wildfires in California’s history, as firefighters try to get a handle on more than a dozen blazes burning through wine country.
As of Friday evening, the death toll stood at 32, CBS2’s Chris Martinez reported. Thousands more have been forced to flee the flames.
“We’re making great progress throughout this entire fire,” said Cal Fire Deputy Fire Chief Barry Biermann. “Resources are coming in, and actually, through all of our fires, we’re starting to make progress.”
Among the survivors is Monica Berriz-Ocon and her 76-year-old father, Armando Berriz. She said she and her family were on vacation in Santa Rosa when they woke up to a fast-moving blaze Monday morning.
“No time for anything,” she said. “By the time we got into our car, there were flames — 30-foot flames.”
Her mother and father became trapped. In a desperate measure, the couple jumped into a pool, clinging to the side and each other for hours while flames roared through.
“She actually made it through the worst part of the whole fire,” Berriz-Ocon said. “It was at dusk when she passed. Her lungs just kind of gave out.”
Carmen Berriz died in her husband’s arms.
More than 400 people are still missing in Sonoma County alone. Others are rescuing animals left behind in the area.
“Yaks, emus, horses, cattle, dogs, cats — we’ve had pretty much everything,” said Adrianna Novelo, who is with a group called Mission Rescue that has been driving through the evacuated areas.
About 60 miles south in San Francisco, heavy smoke is blanketing the city. Schools have canceled classes, and many are seeking refuge with facemasks.
Firefighters say one of the biggest fires is about 25 percent contained. But winds are expected to pick up through the weekend, threatening the modest gains.