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23 Dead As California's Wildfires Grow

Wildfires already well on their way to becoming the deadliest in California history show no signs of slowing down. Steady winds of up to 30 mph and gusts up to 45 mph with humidity plunging near zero are expected to descend on the areas north of San Francisco where at least 23 people have died and at least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed. State fire Chief Ken Pimlott said Wednesday that the situation is "going to continue to get worse before it gets better." Whole cities turned to ghost towns after they were evacuated. They included Calistoga, the wine-country resort city of more than 5,000 people, all of them under evacuation orders.

After fast-moving wildfires left at least 23 bodies in their wake, California fire officials say they will assess the effectiveness of emergency alert systems. Communities in the wildfire-prone state use an array of electronic systems to send out alerts to residents when they need to evacuate, including text messages and emails. But it might not be possible to reach everyone in danger, with so little time to react.State fire agency Chief Ken Pimlott said Wednesday that many people were in bed when the fires hit communities Sunday night and there was "little time to notify anybody by any means." The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department said thousands of texts were sent warning residents to flee.
But some evacuees said they were never warned of the danger.