Wind-whipped wildfires sweep through California wine country

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McDowell open to fire evacuees from the fires in Sonoma and Santa Rosa. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon, as wildfires in the state's wine country exploded into some of its worst in history.

O'Gorman and Ortega were among many who scrambled to safety as the blazes rolled through, forcing emergency evacuations from the hospital, homes and hotels.

Firefighters are facing difficulties battling three fast-moving wildfires north of Napa, California, totaling at least 44,000 acres as of early Monday, officials said.

The "Atlas" fire, meanwhile, had burned through an additional 25,000 acres in the hills above Napa County. The effects of these devastating fires could be felt as far away as San Francisco, where officials told citizens to keep doors and windows close and limit outdoor activity.

John Dean was driving to his Sonoma County home early Monday when he saw a house on fire along the road.

ABC7 News extended coverage of North Bay fires One of the fires has triggered the evacuation of Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa, Calif. Sutter Hospital in Santa Rosa is also under evacuation orders.

While escaping, the family picked up Debbie DeLanoy, another tourist, and brought her to the evacuation center. Fire officials say at least 1,500 structures have burned in five of those blazes.

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According to eyewitnesses, the place looked like a worn torn zone with fire everywhere and people running for their lives. At least six fire trucks and more than 200 police personnel were deployed to help cordon off the area.

"If you live near Cardinal Newman High School or Larkfield, it is time to evacuate", read a message from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office. Highway 101 and Highway 12 were closed. Gusts were predicted to be in the 30 miles per hour range in the area of the fire.

Napa Mayor Jill Techel says authorities had to evacuate Montecito Boulevard and Monte Vista Avenue in the city. One of the largest was in the area of Porter Creek Road and Petrified Forest Road near Calistoga where mandatory evacuations were ordered for residents along Porter Creek, Petrified Forest, Franz Valley and Mountain Home Ranch Rd.

"The winds have just been outrageous here tonight, and essentially we are in a mode of saving people's lives and getting people out of harm's way at the moment", Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said.

Flames were also burning near the Domaine Carneros winery. "I mean blazing, falling down on fire".

The Napa Valley Register reported that authorities have been going to homes north of Silverado Resort asking residents to leave.

Smoke was thick in San Francisco, 60 miles (96 km) south of the Sonoma County fire.