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Updated 6:50 p.m.
By TERENCE CHEA and DON THOMPSON Associated Press
SANTA ROSA, California (AP) — As nearly 200,000 people remain under evacuation order from threat of wildfire, some of the millions of people in Northern California on track to get their electricity back may not have power restored before another possible round of shut-offs and debilitating winds.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has notified more than 1.2 million people that they may have their electricity shut off for what could be the third time in a week and the fourth time this month.
Meanwhile, more than 2.4 million people who lost electricity over the weekend were awaiting restoration as hurricane-force winds whipped through the state, fueling a wildfire in Sonoma County as smaller spot fires cropped up.
Fire conditions statewide made California "a tinderbox," said Jonathan Cox, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Of the state's 58 counties, 43 were under red flag warnings for high fire danger through Wednesday morning.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in response to the wildfires, powered by gusts that reached more than 102 mph.
The Kincade Fire in Sonoma County has burned 74,324 acres and was 15 percent contained Monday, down from 10 percent over the weekend. One-hundred twenty three structures have been destroyed, and 57 of those are residential buildings. Ninety thousand structures are still threatened. Full containment isn't expected until Nov. 7.
Read the full Cal Fire Monday morning update here.
The inland towns of Healdsburg and Windsor were told to leave on Saturday. By evening authorities ordered evacuations for communities stretching all the way through the Russian River Valley to Bodega Bay on the coast.
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick pleaded with residents to heed the orders, citing deaths that occurred when fire swept through the area two years ago. The communities are in an area where a 2015 blaze killed four people and burned nearly 2,000 homes and other buildings.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office says it is expected to be the biggest evacuation in the county in more than 25 years. Officials have released an interactive map of the affected areas in Sonoma, as well as a map of evacuations in Napa County.
Some 40 school districts in Sonoma County canceled classes. And the University of California, Berkeley, called off classes because of the power outages there.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, two grass fires briefly halted traffic on the Carquinez bridge. The flames came dangerously close to homes in Vallejo. Another grass fire closed a stretch of interstate that cut through the state capital as smoke obstructed drivers.
PG&E reported to state regulators its power lines may have started two wildfires near the town Lafayette. The utility told the California Public Utilities Commission that a worker responded to the first fire around 4:45 p.m. Sunday and was told firefighters believe contact between a power line and a communication line may have caused it.
A worker went to another fire about an hour later and was told firefighters are investigating a transformer as a possible ignition source.
In the south, a wildfire in the Santa Clarita area near Los Angeles destroyed 18 structures. As of Sunday, the Tick Fire was 70% contained.
Early Monday, a brush fire broke out along the west side of Interstate 405, north of Sunset Boulevard and near the Getty Center in Southern California. The fire erupted before dawn Monday and roared up slopes into well-to-do neighborhoods, threatening thousands of homes. Tens of thousands of people were ordered to clear out.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the fire had grown to 500 acres and that he had seen five burned homes. Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said he expects the number to climb.
The fire was burning in the upper elevations of the Brentwood area. The evacuation area extended westward through Pacific Palisades down to the Pacific Coast Highway, encompassing some of the most exclusive real estate in California, where celebrities and executives live in mountain and ridgetop retreats that cost tens of millions of dollars but are surrounded by tinder-dry vegetation.
Mount Saint Mary's University tweeted that students at its Chalon campus near the museum were evacuated to another campus and classes were canceled for Monday. The Getty itself was designed with fire protection in mind, with thick walls and doors to compartmentalize any flames, and Scott said it wasn't threatened.
Scott said at least two structures were burning. No injuries had been reported.
To prevent power lines from sparking in high winds and setting off more blazes up north, PG&E said Sunday that power is out to 965,000 customers and another 100,000 have lost electricity because of strong gusts, bringing the number of residents impacted by blackouts to nearly 2.7 million people.
The biggest evacuation was in Sonoma County where 180,000 people were told to pack up and leave. Some evacuating early Sunday had done so two years ago, when devastating wildfires swept through Sonoma and Napa and neighboring counties, killing 44 people.
At an evacuation center at Napa Valley College, Francisco Alvarado, 15, said he, two younger brothers and his parents decided to vacate their Calistoga home in advance of evacuation orders. Two years ago, the family had to flee, but in the middle of the night.
"I'm pretty mad that we have to keep evacuating," he said. "I just want to be home. I'm trying to leave here tomorrow; I want to sleep in my bed."
He said he wasn't sure who, if anyone, to blame for the repeated fires, but said he didn't fault PG&E for turning off the electricity to try to prevent them.
Rosa Schuth of Sebastopol stayed up late packing bags but didn't think she would need to evacuate because the fires never reached her town in 2017. She had been asleep for a half hour when she heard sirens telling residents to go. She got in her car and hopped on a country road that became jammed with evacuees.
"The wind is really something. It just rages and suddenly it stops, and you see a bird drifting by," she said.
Electricity is expected to begin being 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 Wednesday.
The fear that the winds could blow embers and spread fire across a major highway prompted authorities to expand evacuation orders that covered parts of Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 that was devastated by wildfire two years ago.
Hundreds of people arrived at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa by Sunday. Some came from senior care facilities. More than 300 people slept inside an auditorium filled with cots and wheeled beds. Scores of others stayed in a separate building with their pets.
Among them was Maribel Cruz, 19, who packed up her dog, four cats and fish as soon as she was told to flee her trailer in the town of Windsor, about 60 miles north of San Francisco. She also grabbed a neighbor's cat.
"I'm just nervous since I grew up in Windsor," she said. "I'm hoping the wind cooperates."
A historic attraction outside Healdsburg was lost Sunday when embers carried by wind sparked a blaze that engulfed the Soda Rock Winery. Buildings included a general store and post office founded in 1869.
In the central California, a tree toppled in strong wind Sunday killed a woman and injured a man who was taken to a hospital, officials said.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, gusts knocked over a 30-foot tree at a farmers' market in Martinez, injuring nine people, including a toddler. Six people left with injuries that were not life-threatening were taken to a hospital, police said.
During the 2017 fires, winds up to 90 mph lasted for about 12 hours. This time, the gusts were stronger and expected to last more than 36 hours, ending Monday night, said Matt Mehle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Monterey office.
Parched vegetation from unseasonably hot weather and low humidity was already igniting elsewhere, and firefighters scrambled to keep up.
Two grass fires shut down a 6-mile stretch of Interstate 80, including a bridge between the cities of Crockett and Vallejo, and forced the evacuation of 200 people from California State University Maritime Academy. An ember from one fire possibly sparked the other.
Smoke from another grass fire Sunday forced the closure of a stretch of Interstate 80 running through Sacramento's downtown. Meanwhile, fire officials spotted downed power lines in the area of a small fire that destroyed a building at a tennis club and three other structures in Lafayette, a leafy suburb in the east San Francisco Bay Area.
The city of Vallejo said the power blackout shut off its pumping station needed to access its well water, prompting an emergency. The city barred residents from watering yards and asked people to limit bathing and flushing toilets, reported The Vallejo Times Herald.
Associated Press writers Daisy Nguyen and Janie Har in San Francisco, Christopher Weber in Los Angeles and Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report.
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