Devastation of California's raging wildfires laid bare in drone footage (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Devastation of California's raging wildfires laid bare in drone footage (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Devastation of California's raging wildfires laid bare in drone footage (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

He said that autumn - when summer heat has dried out brush - is the most risky time of the year for wildfires in the state, adding that California was still feeling the effects of five years of drought.

The death toll rose Tuesday to 17 in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Yuba counties while officers in Sonoma County - where most of the deaths occurred - searched evacuation centers and homes for 240 people, finding 57 of them as of Tuesday afternoon.

At least 13 people were killed by the Tubbs fire in Sonoma County alone, officials said, two more than were reported earlier in the day.

The massive complex of blazes has burned 265 square miles since breaking out nearly simultaneously on Sunday night.

He said in the devastating Northern California fires, people were leaving important documents and photographs in safes, but when they returned and opened the safes after their homes had burned, everything was gone. There were originally 600 reports of missing people, but officials said that 315 were located safely.

Wesley Carr, 23, a resident of Sebastopol in Sonoma County, said smoke from the fires had enveloped the area. As the fires grow, officials voiced concern that separate blazes would merge into even larger infernos.

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The 8,000-plus Cal Fire crews have been working nonstop since the blazes first broke out Sunday night and are committed to the "constant battle", he said.

"We're on drawdown in the county", he said.

In addition to high winds, fires were stoked by an abundance of thick brush and other vegetation left tinder dry by a summer of hot, dry weather.

US President Donald Trump has also approved a disaster declaration, allowing federal emergency aid to be disbursed.

In the aftermath, the SF Business Times brings us this montage of mostly drone footage of Santa Rosa, and the burned areas around Coffey Park and the Fountaingrove neighborhood, including the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel, which was completely destroyed.

Drone footage from above Santa Rosa, a city in Sonoma County, reveals an apocalypse-like neighborhood.

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"I don't know, man, the wrath of God is not very happy", Branch said.

"We have had big fires in the past".

About 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed, Ken Pimlott, director of CalFire, told a news conference.

With limited cell service and power down in many places, residents whose homes were spared are finding it hard to return, especially since most homes in the hills use wells. "They are going through a lot", he added.

McCallister said that some of those neighbors are the reason she and her husband were able to grab necessities and get out.

"It's insane how in just a few hours a place I've recognized all my life I can't recognize", he said at a roadside food stop in the town of Sonoma.

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