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California Fires Destroyed 8,400 Buildings, Evacuees Check Homes

Preliminary estimates indicate the fires burning in Northern California caused an excess of $1 billion in damages, and that figure is expected to rise.
Image: Santa Rosa Residents Return After Wildfires
A man who declined to give his name surveys a burned property in the Coffey Park area of Santa Rosa, California on October 20, 2017.Josh Edelson / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Some Northern California residents who fled their houses nearly two weeks ago as wildfires threatened them started returning home Friday to see what is still standing.

Authorities also raised the number of buildings destroyed to 8,400, from fewer than 7,000 a day earlier as crews continued assessing the damage.

The residents of three neighborhoods in the hard-hit city of Santa Rosa were allowed to see what remains of their houses. Many had fled in the middle of the night; some of their neighbors died trying to get out.

Daniel Berlant, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said crews had almost finished their damage assessments.

"We're getting back into the areas where homes are hard to access and hard to reach. That's why these numbers are trickling in," Berlant said.

The fires that broke out Oct. 8 north of San Francisco in California's famed wine country and other nearby areas killed 42 people. One wildfire in Sonoma County killed 22, making it the third deadliest fire in California's history.

California's insurance commissioner has said preliminary estimates of the wildfire losses exceed $1 billion and that the figure is expected to rise.