The firestorm that engulfed large parts of Napa and Sonoma Counties in California on Monday will go down in history as one of the worst such events ever recorded in the Golden State.
By the end of the day on Monday, at least 15 people had been killed, 1,500 or more structures destroyed, and hundreds injured by flames that moved so quickly one hospital had to evacuate patients using nurses’ own cars, rather than wait for ambulances to arrive.
The fires show yet again how cruel nature is when the right combination of ingredients come together. Five months of unusually hot and dry weather following the state’s record wet winter ensured a ready supply of combustible vegetation.
On top of these background conditions, there was a unique combination of weather conditions in place on Sunday night and Monday that ensured that virtually any fire that started would spread rapidly and unpredictably.