Governor Newsom declares statewide emergency due to high winds fueling fires

SANTA ROSA, California (AP) California’s governor declared a statewide emergency Sunday after officials ordered nearly 200,000 people to leave their homes as hurricane-force winds drove multiple wildfires through bone-dry vegetation. Meanwhile, the state’s largest utility cut electricity to millions of residents as a precaution to prevent more areas from igniting.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement that officials were deploying “every resource available” to respond to the wildfires, including a large blaze in Northern California’s wine country powered by gusts that reached more than 102 mph (164 kph).

In the San Francisco Bay Area, two grass fires briefly halted traffic on a bridge. The flames came dangerously close to homes in Vallejo. Another grass fire closed a stretch of interstate that cuts through the state capital as smoke obstructed drivers.

In the south, a wildfire in the Santa Clarita area near Los Angeles destroyed 18 structures. As of Sunday, the Tick Fire was 65% contained.

The biggest evacuation was in Northern California’s Sonoma County where 180,000 people were told to pack up and leave.

To prevent its power lines from sparking in the high winds and setting off more blazes, Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to 2.3 million people across 36 counties this weekend. Electricity is expected to be restored by Monday, though the utility warned it might cut power again as soon as Tuesday because of another forecast of strong winds that are expected to last until....

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