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Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the fires started around 10 p.m. local time Sunday.

The death occurred in the Mendocino County area, according to Cal-Fire, which declined to immediately release further details.

Brown said in his statement that the multiple fires "threatened thousands of homes". Flames consumed mobile homes next to the Kaiser hospital while hospital employees rushed patients to safety. A Hilton Hotel was smoldering and in ruins. The fire is one of at least five brush fires burning in the region. "The strong winds are making these fires hard". The fire has crossed Highway 101 in Santa Rosa and ignited structures west of the freeway.

Residents in Napa and Sonoma counties are describing their terrifying middle-of-the-night scramble to flee from raging wildfires. Jerry Brown on Monday declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

Elderly people, children and those with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to the smoky conditions and should take extra precautions, air district officials said. He was one of hundreds of evacuees who streamed into a 24-hour Safeway market overnight, while authorities set up an official evacuation center. Cal Fire said firefighters were battling a 200-acre fire in Napa County. At least 1,500 structures have been destroyed, California's fire chief said.

The city of Santa Rosa, a popular hub for wine enthusiasts, is facing some of the worst damage from the fires.

Mass evacuations are also taking place in Sonoma County, according to the county sheriff's department, where flames from the Tubbs Fire have inundated Santa Rosa, Larkfield and Forestville.

"We were sleeping, but we kept smelling smoke". "It's something that we're having to be very cautious about".

Emergency dispatchers were overwhelmed with 911 calls and advised callers to only call if actual flames were spotted.

Additional updates to come from our reporters on the ground as the story unfolds.

. "I could hear and feel the heat within minutes", Larsen said.

Forecasters said winds will remain strong on Monday morning but are expected to ease by midday.

Evacuation centers in Sonoma County have opened at the Cloverdale Cirtus Fair, Sebastopol Vets Hall and Sonoma Valley High School, according to officials.