Updated at 2:01 p.m. ET.
Wildfires erupted in Northern California over the weekend, forcing residents in the wine country north of San Francisco to flee as homes went up in flames. At least 1,500 structures have been destroyed, California’s fire chief said.
“It was an inferno like you’ve never seen before,” Marian Williams told The Associated Press as she escaped from the small Sonoma County town of Kenwood.
“Trees were on fire like torches,” she said.
The fires were first reported Sunday and Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties. Mandatory evacuations were ordered in some areas.
Butte and Nevada counties were also affected.
As many as 8,000 homes are threatened, hundreds of structures have been destroyed and two hospitals in Santa Rosa were evacuated.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s website reports:
“One out-of-control blaze in and around northern Santa Rosa called the Tubbs Fire had burned at least 20,000 acres by 8 a.m. Scores of homes were lost in the Fountaingrove area east of Highway 101 and in the Journey’s End Mobile Home Park on Mendocino Avenue.
“The Fountaingrove Inn across the street from the mobile home park burned, as did the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, a Kmart store, a McDonald’s, an Arby’s, an Applebee’s and a Mountain Mike’s Pizza. And that was just the beginning.”