Death toll reaches 40 in fires, as winds put firefighters to the test

- Three more deaths have been confirmed from the wildfires burning in Northern California, bringing the total to 40.

The Napa County Sheriff's Office announced two more deaths there on Saturday, taking their total to six. The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office says the 22nd body in the county has been found in the city of Santa Rosa.

Two more Sonoma County deaths were confirmed Saturday around 5:30 p.m. The identities have not yet been release.

The two found deceased in Napa County were found in the residence of 90-year-old Sally Lewis. Her caretaker, 50-year-old Teresa Santos, is said to have been taking care of Lewis at the time of the fire. However, positive identifications have not been made at this time.

Fire crews made progress this week in their efforts to contain the massive wildfires in California wine country, but officials say strong winds are putting their work to the test.

The state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says winds picked up to 20 mph (32 kph), with gusts up to 40 mph (64 kph), early Saturday.

They pushed the fire closer to several communities, forcing new evacuations for about 400 homes in Sonoma County.

Napa County officials say they do not anticipate new evacuations, but residents should stay alert and vigilant. 

Dean Vincent Bordigioni said he woke up at 3 a.m. to see flames bursting on the ridge above his winery 7 miles (11 kilometers) east of Santa Rosa.

He says things "went to hell last night," and firefighters have "got a good fight going on."

 CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant says fire crews have spent days digging defense lines to keep the flames from spreading to residential areas. But he says officials are concerned the winds will blow embers and ignite new fires.

------ 8 a.m.

Winds kicked up overnight, forcing new evacuations for about 400 homes as wildfires continue to rage in California's wine country.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Saturday the affected areas include the Oakmont retirement community that was evacuated earlier in the week when fire ravaged portions of Santa Rosa.

CalFire spokesman Jonathan Cox says the fire also reached a sparsely populated part of Sonoma, a town of 11,000, and has burned some structures.

The fires have caused an unprecedented amount of death and destruction in the state, with officials reporting 35 dead and 5,700 homes and businesses destroyed.

Those numbers make this the deadliest and most destructive series of fires California has ever seen. Although firefighters made progress in containing the fires Friday, officials say the winds on Saturday are testing the work they accomplished.

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