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A guest looks on as the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel burns. Photo: Jeff Chiu / AP

"More than a dozen wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through California wine country Monday," per the AP. The fires have so far destroyed at least 1,500 homes and businesses and forced 20,000 people to flee for safety.

The scale
  • California's fire chief told the AP the fires are "burning throughout an eight-county swath of Northern California, including Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties." Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba.
  • "Smoke from the fires drifted into the Bay Area, into San Francisco [which is 60 miles south of the fires] and as far south as San Jose," the LA Times reports.
  • "It was an inferno like you've never seen before," Marian Williams told the AP. "Trees were on fire like torches."
The numbers

Per the LA Times:

  • At least 300 firefighters are battling the blazes, which are burning with winds up to 70 mph
  • 45,000 people are without power and/or cell service in Napa and Sonoma counties.
  • 3 evacuation centers in Napa are almost at capacity.
From the scene
A firefighter monitors a house burning in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: Jeff Chiu / AP

Go deeper

13 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.