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Elderly disabled woman unable to escape California wildfire, officials say

By Doug G. Ware
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Elderly disabled woman unable to escape California wildfire, officials say
A fire chief speaks to a reporter near the Valley Fire, which has burned more than 60,000 acres and displaced 13,000 people in the region. Photo by Napa County/Twitter

NAPA, Calif., Sept. 14 (UPI) -- An elderly and disabled woman who lived in Northern California's Napa Valley was killed by a wildfire that sparked in the region over the weekend, authorities said Monday.

The Valley Fire started Saturday in Lake County and prompted the evacuations of hundreds of nearby homes. The woman apparently could not make it out before flames engulfed her home.

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"A phone call for a request to assist an elderly, disabled female at a residence on Hot Springs Road came in to the Dispatch Center at 7:12 p.m. on Saturday evening," the Lake County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. "Officers and deputies responded to the area, but were unable to reach the subdivision as it had already been engulfed by flames."

"The resident was apparently unable to self-evacuate and responders were unable to make it to her home before the fire engulfed the structure," the statement added.

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Authorities arrived at the woman's home about 20 minutes after the fire was first reported. So far, her's is the only known death caused by the fire.

Firefighter Richard Reiff, though, was severely burned while battling the blaze, officials said. Monday, he spoke directly to California Gov. Jerry Brown about the wildfire.

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"Sadly 1 civilian has died in the #ValleyFire in Lake County," Cal Fire Public Information Officer Daniel Berlant tweeted Monday.

RELATED Four firefighters injured as California battles two growing fires

The Valley Fire so far has destroyed more than 60,000 acres and forced 13,000 people from their homes. Several houses have also been damaged.

The woman was not immediately identified and officials said they are investigating the cause of her death.

"The sheriff's office and all first responders express their condolences to those who have been affected by this disaster. We are hopeful that the fire does not claim any more lives," the sheriff's office said.

RELATED Thousands evacuated as firefighters lose ground on California wildfire

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