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Death toll in Northern California wildfires reaches 17; over 2,000 homes, businesses destroyed

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — The death toll from wildfires raging in Northern California has now grown to 17.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office announced two additional deaths there late Tuesday. That brings the county’s total to 11. The other six are spread among Napa, Yuba and Mendocino counties.

The Sheriff’s Office released only the names of the streets where the deceased were discovered, and no information on the identities or circumstances of the deaths.

The series of fires that flared up north of San Francisco on Sunday night are among the deadliest in California history.

The blazes have also left at least 180 people injured and have destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses.

Meanwhile, in Southern California, most evacuation orders have been lifted as firefighters successfully battle a wildfire that destroyed 14 buildings, most of them homes.

Thousands of people in Tustin, Orange and Anaheim were allowed to begin returning home Tuesday evening, a day after the blaze erupted in northern Orange County.

Only a few streets remain off-limits.

The wind-driven fire raced through tinder-dry hills but Orange County fire Capt. Larry Kurtz says the winds have died and temperatures are cooling.

The fire is more than 25 percent contained.

Kurtz says fire crews now hope to go on the offensive but they will still continue to protect homes in evacuated areas. He says crews can’t afford to let any sparks or embers ignite.