California wildfires bring record 31 deaths

Coffey Park homes burn early Monday Oct. 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, Calif. More than a dozen wildfires whipped by powerful winds been burning though California wine country. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

(AP) – Northern California’s wildfires have now killed 31 people — making this the deadliest week of wildfires in state history.

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said Thursday night that two more people have been confirmed dead there. That raises the statewide death total from 29 to 31.

The Oakland Hills fire of 1991 killed 29 people by itself.

While no one fire currently burning has killed that many, collectively this is the deadliest series of simultaneous fires in the state since records have been kept.

The blazes, most of them in wine country, broke out almost all at once on Sunday night.

California’s deadly wildfires have claimed the home of ‘Peanuts’ creator Charles Schulz but his widow has escaped the flames.

Schulz’s son, Monte Schulz, says a fire on Monday torched the Santa Rosa homes of his stepmother, 78-year-old Jean Schulz, and his brother, Craig Schulz.

She’s staying with other relatives.

Schulz says he’s been told the home where his famous cartoonist father died and all the memorabilia in it are gone.

However, most of his father’s original artwork is in the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, and so far that’s escaped the flames.

California fire officials are investigating downed power lines and other utility equipment failures as possible causes of massive wildfires sweeping through wine country.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Janet Upton says it’s unclear if downed power lines and live wires resulted from fires or started them.

She said Thursday that investigators are looking into that and other possible causes.

Jennifer Robison of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. says the utility is focused on restoring power and maintaining safety. She says they will not speculate about the causes of the fires.

She says PG&E will support reviews by any regulator or agency.

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