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October 19, 2017

California wildfires kill 21 including elderly couple

Fire survivor: 'I don't have any neighbours any more.' AGENCIES
Fire survivor: 'I don't have any neighbours any more.' AGENCIES

A couple who recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary are among the 21 dead in some of California's worst-ever wildfires.

Charles Rippey, 100, and his wife, Sara, 98, perished in one of 22 blazes that have destroyed 115,000 acres (26,000ha) and 3,500 buildings.

The couple, originally from Wisconsin, first met in primary school, their sons told the New York Times.

Officials in the hard-hit Sonoma County say 380 people are still missing.

Wineries count cost of wildfires disaster

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano earlier said 670 people were missing, adding the situation was changing quickly.

He also said about 150 people have been located and expects that some of those who have been found have yet to update their status on the missing registry.

More evacuations were ordered on Wednesday as the winds shifted. The entire town of Calistoga, in Napa County, was told to leave - about 5,000 residents - and police stopped all traffic trying to approach the area.

The Rippeys died on Sunday at their home in Napa, California, where the fast-moving fires trapped them inside.

The couple's son, Mike Rippey said he and his brother found their parents' remains near each other amid the rubble of their home on Tuesday.

"We kids would always talk about what it would be like if one of them died and the other was still alive," Mr Rippey, 71, told the newspaper.

"They just couldn't be without each other. The fact that they went together is probably what they would have wanted."

The couple attended the University of Wisconsin and married in 1942 before World War Two took Charles Rippey abroad.

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