Photos: what California’s catastrophic wildfires look like from the ground

By Diana Elbasha

Wildfires are raging in several parts of California this week, burning through shrub land and neighborhoods and inching perilously close to the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is fighting a total of 22 large fires in different parts of the state that have killed at least 21 people and scorched more than 170,000 acres, including 3,500 homes and businesses. The Tubbs fire in Sonoma and Napa counties alone killed 11 people, making it the sixth-deadliest wildfire in California history.

“Make no mistake: This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event,” Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said Wednesday.

Firefighters have barely contained the blazes and are now bracing for shifting winds that could move the flames in new directions that put more lives and homes at risk. Some 20,000 people are under evacuation order, and many thousands more are affected by dangerously low levels of air quality from the billowing smoke. Ash from the fires is reportedly falling on residents of the Bay Area.

Here are a few of the most striking images we’ve seen so far of the fires, the fight against them, and their impact on Californians. (This post will be updated with new images this week as they become available.)

 Josh Edelson/AFPGetty Images
An inmate firefighter monitors flames in Napa on October 9, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region.
 Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Smoke and flames rise as a wildfire from Santa Rosa and Napa Valley moves on October 10.
 David McNew/Getty Images
A neighborhood destroyed by fire near Cardinal Newman High School on October 10 in Santa Rosa.
 Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
A helicopter drops water near homes in Anaheim on October 9, after a fire spread quickly through the area, prompting mandatory evacuations and freeway closures.
 Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
A firefighter looks up at a water-dropping helicopter circling the fire at Peters Canyon Regional Park on October 9 in Orange County.
 Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A view of a San Francisco gulf as a wildfire from the Santa Rosa and Napa valleys moves through the area on October 10.
 Robyn BeckAFP/Getty Images
People watch water-dropping helicopters amid smoke from the Canyon Fire 2 in Orange County on October 9.
 Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A resident rushes to save his home as an out-of-control wildfire moves through the area on October 9 in Glen Ellen.
 Stuart Palley/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Smoke and water stream through the roof of a home destroyed by the Canyon Fire 2 on October 9 in Anaheim Hills.
 Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The remains of damaged buildings are seen after a wildfire moved through the area in Santa Rosa.
 David McNew/Getty Images
A toy car is left scorched in a neighborhood destroyed by fire near Cardinal Newman High School on October 10 in Santa Rosa.
 Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Homeowner Martha Marquez looks over her burned home in Santa Rosa on October 10.
 Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A resident goes through personal belongings in a parking lot next to a fire-damaged Arby’s restaurant on October 9 in Santa Rosa.
 Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Grapes hang from a burned grave vine on October 10 in Glen Ellen.
 David McNew/Getty Images
Fire Station 5 lies in ruins after a firestorm swept over the neighborhood, on October 10 in Santa Rosa.

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