The wind known as the Diablo is picking up again, the air is dry, there is no rain in sight and the killer wildfires that have scorched the wine country of Northern California remain almost completely uncontained. Officials warned Wednesday that some of the big fires could merge making them almost impossible to contain. While thousands have been told to evacuate or prepare to leave their homes, hundreds are missing and 23 are dead.
There's now also a probable link between the wildfires and the power grid failure. The huge utility company PG&E acknowledged that the extreme winds late Sunday and early Monday had knocked trees into power lines in conditions conducive to wildfires. "The historic wind event that swept across PG&E's service area late Sunday and early Monday packed hurricane-strength winds in excess of 75 mph in some cases," said Ari Vanrenen, a PG&E spokeswoman, in a statement released after the San Jose Mercury News first reported on a possible link between the wildfires and the power grid. "These destructive winds, along with millions of trees weakened by years of drought and recent renewed vegetation growth from winter storms, all contributed to some trees, branches, and debris impacting our electric lines across the North Bay," she said.