California fire death toll rises to 23, thousands of buildings destroyed

After days of raging wildfires across California, fire crews have barely contained the dozens of infernos.

The fires have now killed 23 people, and more than 3,500 homes and businesses have gone up in flames.

Austin Blystone, a Santa Rosa resident, tried to evacuate with his children Monday morning after a nearby blaze woke them up. Watch the nightmarish video Blystone posted to Facebook of his family’s attempt to flee.

WARNING: This video contains explicit language. 

In the clip, Blystone’s frightened young sons point out burning trees in disbelief, as one of the boys begins to cry.

“Robert, calm down,” Blystone says, trying to reassure his kids. “We are 100 percent safe.”

The boys beg their father to turn around as they head out onto the dark, smokey road. Blystone eventually does, though he exclaims that he can’t see through the raining ash and embers.

Blystone has since posted more photos and videos to his Facebook page, implying he and his sons escaped the fire without much trouble. In one of his posts, he reassured friends and family that his apartment building was still standing.

Not everyone has been as lucky as Blystone’s family — many Californians have shared footage of destruction, particularly in Sonoma County, on social media.


Air rescue teams have already lifted more than 50 people and multiple pets to safety. There is currently no timeline detailing when evacuees can safely return to their homes.

The fire clusters are being called some of the most destructive and devastating in U.S. history, and officials have yet to determine the cause.