ARLINGTON, Va. - Following an emergency declaration by California Gov. Jerry Brown, the state National Guard mobilized resources Monday to assist civil authorities in the battle against massive wildfires that have already killed 23 people.
Figures on Tuesday indicated that nearly 250 members of the California National Guard were on duty. Some personnel flew aircraft, drove fuel trucks or assisted local enforcement personnel.
On Monday, when fires broke out and rapidly spread due to dry conditions, the California National Guard dispatched three medevac helicopters and 100 military police officers, National Guard Bureau officials said.
The fires, many in California's iconic Napa Valley wine country, have destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses, and there were reports that schools were reduced to ashes.
Several residents and visitors were forced to evacuate, some in the middle of the night, according to news reports.
Officials expect the death toll to rise, since at least 285 people were still missing.
The wind-fanned flames spread rapidly, leaving many residents without warning. Officials do not know what triggered the disastrous fires, they said.