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Fire crews battle as deadly California wildfires rage on

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Firefighters battled overnight to contain wildfires in Northern California, evacuating residents in the path of 15 separate blazes that have killed at least 10 people and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.

Efforts to control the fires, which swept through the state’s world-famous wine country, were being helped by more favorable weather conditions, a spokesman for the governor’s Office of Emergency Services said.

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However, the death toll could still rise, Brad Alexander warned.

“Firefighters and emergency management workers were taking advantage of the winds dying down …and a lot of work is going to be done overnight and early (Tuesday) morning,” he said late on Monday.

“…The top priority is still the evacuations for the most active fires because life protection is the number one concern.”

Some 20,000 people had been evacuated from their homes since Sunday, officials said, while broadcaster CNN said more than 100 had been treated for fire-related injuries including burns and smoke inhalation.

About 1,500 homes and commercial buildings had been destroyed, Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said on Monday.

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Fanned by high temperatures and dry conditions, the 15 fires broke out over the weekend and spread to cover some 73,000 acres (114 sq miles), fire officials said.

The largest, covering 42 sq miles and 39 sq miles respectively, struck in Napa and Sonoma counties, the heartland of California’s wine industry where the status of the crop currently being harvested was unclear on Monday.

In addition to potential damage to vineyards from fire itself, experts say sustained exposure to heavy smoke can taint unpicked grapes.

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Fred Oliai, 47, owner of the Alta Napa Valley Winery, said winemakers were nervous.

“You can’t see anything, the smoke is very dense,” he told Reuters by telephone on Monday. He had not been able to get close enough to his vineyards to see if flames reached his 90-acre property.

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“We got our grapes in last week, but others still have grapes hanging,” he said.

Schools and colleges near the wildfires canceled Tuesday’s classes, and two hospitals in Sonoma County were forced to evacuate, state officials said.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Napa, Sonoma and five other counties.

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That included Orange County in Southern California, where a wildfire on Monday destroyed at least a half dozen homes in the affluent Anaheim Hills neighborhood, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents, authorities said.

(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Keith Coffman in Denver, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Gina Cherelus and Joseph Ax in New York; editing by John Stonestreet)


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WATCH: Trump whines to Turkish president he only takes questions from ‘friendly reporters’

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In a press conference Wednesday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, President Donald Trump openly reminded that he only takes questions from people on his side.

"Would you like to pick somebody?" Trump asked Erdo?an after taking a question from the far-right OANN. "A friendly person from Turkey, please. Friendly. Only friendly reporters. There aren’t too many of them around."

Trump has increasingly refused to take questions from reporters who ask him actual questions that he both knows the answer to and will make him look good.

The White House hasn't hosted a "daily press briefing" for 247 days and not at all under the new press secretary, Stephanie Grisham. She has, however, had time to appear on Fox News multiple times to speak for the White House.

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Fox legal analyst: Today was a good day for anyone who wants to shorten the Trump presidency

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As the first public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry against President Trump wrapped up this Wednesday, former assistant US attorney and Fox News contributor Andrew McCarthy said that he originally expected Republicans' "best pitch" to be that the Democrats' impeachment inquiry hasn't demonstrated anything impeachable.

"Instead what they've tried to do is go at this by saying, 'Nothing bad happened, it was perfect,'" McCarthy said, adding that the latter tactic will open them up to an "itemization of a number of irregularities that happened and a lot of very admirable and articulate government witnesses getting on the witness stand to say, 'This shouldn't have happened, that shouldn't have happened, this is a departure from American interests, a departure from American norms.'"

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George Conway blows apart Republicans’ ‘illogical and incoherent’ defense’ of Trump

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Republican Washington lawyer George Conway found the GOP's attempts to defend President Donald Trump to be "illogical and incoherent."

The spouse of Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to the president, explained that the witnesses were clearly non-partisan professionals only willing to talk about the facts.

"And the facts are quite damning. And the defenses that were put up by the Republicans were fundamentally illogical and incoherent," Conway told MSNBC. "I mean, one defense was, 'Hey, they actually got the money. The Ukrainians got the money and Zelensky didn’t make a statement. But the fact of the matter is, it was the ask that was illegal."

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