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A firefighting air tanker makes a drop over a wildfire in Anaheim, California on October 10, 2017. 14 helicopters, 6 airplanes and over 1,100 firefighters work the 7,500-acre brush fire that caused the mandatory evacuations of more than 5,000 homes.
Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Photos: what California’s catastrophic wildfires look like from the ground

Wildfires have been raging in several parts of California this week, burning through shrub land and neighborhoods and inching perilously close to the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

As of Friday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection was fighting a total of 17 large fires in different parts of the state that have killed at least 32 people and scorched more than 221,000 acres, including 3,500 homes and businesses. The Tubbs fire in Sonoma and Napa counties alone killed 18 people, making it one of the deadliest wildfires in California history. And the death toll is expected to rise.

"Make no mistake: This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event," Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said Wednesday.

Firefighters have barely contained the blazes and are now bracing for shifting winds that could move the flames in new directions that put more lives and homes at risk. More than 20,000 people are under evacuation order, and many thousands more are affected by dangerously low levels of air quality from the billowing smoke. Ash from the fires is reportedly falling on residents of the Bay Area.

Here are a few of the most striking images we’ve seen so far of the fires, the fight against them, and their impact on Californians. (This post will be updated with new images this week as they become available.)

The remains after a wildfire moved through Santa Rosa and Napa Valley.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
In this aerial view, a burned neighborhood is seen in Santa Rosa on October 12.
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
The Puerta la Cruz female inmate firefighter crew clears vegetation near homes in Dry Creek Canyon as the Partrick Fire west of Napa approaches on October 12.
David McNew/Getty Images
Wildfire creeps through the forest down the south side of Dry Creek Canyon on October 12. Thousands of homes have burned.
David McNew/Getty Images
An aerial view shows a burned property surrounded by charred vineyards in Santa Rosa on October 12.
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
A sign thanking firefighters is posted on Sonoma’s Highway 12 on October 12.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Charlie and Kate Higgins embrace in front of their burned home in Santa Rosa on October 12. Hundreds of people are still missing.
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
A firefighter puts out a spot flame and tries to stop fire from crossing Highway 29 north of Calistoga, California, on October 12.
Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
An inmate firefighter monitors flames in Napa on October 9, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region.
Josh Edelson/AFPGetty Images
Smoke and flames rise as a wildfire from Santa Rosa and Napa Valley moves on October 10.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A neighborhood destroyed by fire near Cardinal Newman High School on October 10 in Santa Rosa.
David McNew/Getty Images
A helicopter drops water near homes in Anaheim on October 9, after a fire spread quickly through the area, prompting mandatory evacuations and freeway closures.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
A firefighter looks up at a water-dropping helicopter circling the fire at Peters Canyon Regional Park on October 9 in Orange County.
Myung J. Chun/LA Times via Getty Images
A view of a San Francisco gulf as a wildfire from the Santa Rosa and Napa valleys moves through the area on October 10.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
People watch water-dropping helicopters amid smoke from the Canyon Fire 2 in Orange County on October 9.
Robyn BeckAFP/Getty Images

A resident rushes to save his home as an out-of-control wildfire moves through the area on October 9 in Glen Ellen.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Wildfires in Anaheim left orange, hazy skies over Disneyland on October 9.
Courtesy of Junior Olivas/Instagram
Smoke and water stream through the roof of a home destroyed by the Canyon Fire 2 on October 9 in Anaheim Hills.
Stuart Palley/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
The remains of damaged buildings are seen after a wildfire moved through the area in Santa Rosa.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A toy car is left scorched in a neighborhood destroyed by fire near Cardinal Newman High School on October 10 in Santa Rosa.
David McNew/Getty Images
Homeowner Martha Marquez looks over her burned home in Santa Rosa on October 10.
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
A resident goes through personal belongings in a parking lot next to a fire-damaged Arby's restaurant on October 9 in Santa Rosa.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Grapes hang from a burned grave vine on October 10 in Glen Ellen.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Fire Station 5 lies in ruins after a firestorm swept over the neighborhood, on October 10 in Santa Rosa.
David McNew/Getty Images

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