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  • David McNew/Getty Images(SANTA ROSA, Calif.) -- A possibly weary contracted driver of a water truck helping to fight California's wildfires died Monday morning after his truck veered off the road and rolled over, officials said.The unidentified man was driving a water tender, also known as a tanker, that can supply thousands of gallons of water to firefighters.He was driving into Napa Valley's Robert Mondavi Winery to help battle blazes when he apparently lost control of the car, a California fire official confirmed to ABC News."Fatigue is [potentially] a factor," the official said.His death comes after fire officials in California said they "turned a corner" on what has been one of the deadliest outbreaks of wildfires ever to hit the state."Conditions have drastically changed from just 24 hours ago, and that is definitely a very good sign," said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, on Sunday. "It's probably a sign we've turned a corner on these fires," he said, noting that some of the fires were 50 percent or more contained."A week ago this started as a nightmare, and the day we dreamed of has arrived," Napa County Supervisor Belia Ramos said Sunday.Officials warned, however, that 14 large fires are still not fully contained and remain dangerous.So far, 40,000 people have been evacuated. Officials said thousands of displaced residents are being permitted to return home to areas deemed safe.The blazes have raged out of control for over a week, killing at least 41. In Sonoma County, 88 people remain unaccounted for, officials said Monday afternoon. Nearly 700 are in shelters in Santa Rosa, which is a part of the county.They have destroyed some 5,700 homes and other buildings and charred more than 213,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 in Sonoma County, was among the hardest-hit areas, with at least 2,834 homes, businesses and other buildings destroyed there. Critical infrastructure was also lost in the flames, including the city's fire station, according to Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey.Emergency vehicles have since returned to Santa Rosa police headquarters so crews can recuperate, and forecasters predict that Santa Rosa could get a dose of rain by Thursday.The glimmer of hope in the fire-ravaged Wine Country comes after emergency personnel carried out mandatory evacuations in northern California on Saturday and as firefighters fought what had been 16 large wildfires around the state that authorities say leveled entire neighborhoods.But as northern California's Diablo Winds die down, and fires get tamed as weather brings possible precipitation, southern California is seeing its Santa Ana winds starting to gain strength.As a result, officials have placed areas in the southern part of the state under extreme fire weather warnings.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) -- A man accused of transporting undocumented immigrants in a brutally hot tractor-trailer, resulting in the deaths of 10 people, has pleaded guilty to the federal charges against him.James Matthew Bradley Jr., 61, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.The truck was discovered early July 23 in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas, by firefighters and police after a Walmart employee called late Saturday for a welfare check when someone asked the employee for water, officials said.Eight people were found dead inside the tractor-trailer. Two additional people died later. Many experienced heat stroke and dehydration, officials said.The tractor-trailer contained a total of 39 people but was believed to have held between 70 and 180 to 200 people during transport, according to the DOJ press release.Conditions inside the tractor-trailer were "horrific," according to officials. One undocumented immigrant who survived the ordeal told investigators that the driver ignored their banging from inside the container as they took turns breathing through a hole in the wall, according to a criminal complaint. Some people had trouble breathing and passed out, the man said.Bradley initially told an officer at the scene that he was unaware of the tractor-trailer's contents, according to the criminal complaint. Bradley told the officer "after he parked his tractor-trailer he exited the vehicle to urinate when he heard movement in the trailer. Bradley said he then went to the rear of the trailer and opened the door. Bradley stated he tried to administer aid to the occupants," according to the complaint.Temperatures inside the tractor-trailer are estimated to have reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, according to officials.“Today’s admission of guilt by Mr. Bradley helps to close the door on one of the conspirators responsible for causing the tragic loss of life and wreaking havoc on those who survived this horrific incident,” Shane M. Folden, special agent in charge, Homeland Security Investigation, San Antonio, said in a statement. “This case is a glaring reminder that alien smugglers are driven by greed and have little regard for the health and well-being of their human cargo, which can prove to be a deadly combination. HSI is committed to aggressively targeting human smugglers and smuggling organizations, who continually victimize people for profit.”Bradley faces up to life in federal prison, according to the press release. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 22.Another man charged in connection with the smuggling operation, 47–year-old Pedro Silva Segura, an undocumented immigrant, faces a number of counts, including one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain resulting in death, one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy, and more. Silva Segura was arrested in Laredo, Texas, and is awaiting transfer to San Antonio. He has not yet entered a plea.Attorneys for Bradley did not immediately comment on the guilty pleas.
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  • Courtesy of Mike Rippey (SANTA ROSA, Calif.) -- At least 41 people have died from the devastating wildfires that have been burning in California for more than a week.Over 213,000 acres have burned in the state. Sonoma County was hit especially hard, where many perished and homes were demolished.Those killed from the fires include a 100-year-old man and his wife of 75 years, as well as a 72-year-old woman who had reportedly been recovering from cancer.Charles and Sara RippeyCharles and Sara Rippey of Napa County, California, who were married for 75 years, both died in the fires.Charles Rippey, who turned 100 in July, met Sara Rippey when they were children in Wisconsin, one of their sons, Mike Rippey, told ABC News.Mike Rippey, the oldest of five siblings, said his mother "was paralyzed, she had a stroke about five years ago, and there was no way she was getting out of this fire.""And my father was sleeping in a different room, and we found him halfway to her room. And so he never made it to her room," Mike Rippey said. "But even if he had made it, there was no way he was gonna leave her. So neither one of them was getting out."His brother Chuck Rippey said he got a call about the house being engulfed in flames, so he drove over, reaching the house a few hours after the blaze."If they had gotten out, in their elderly state, somehow, they would have gotten grilled out here," Chuck Rippey said. "That's how bad it was."Mike Rippey said of his parents, "They lived a long life. It was a great life and they were happy right up until the last minute."And you just have to look at that and just, you know, be happy that that's what happened and they died together and they never wanted to leave each other," he added. "So it was almost impossible for any of us to visualize one of them dying first."Carol Collins-SwaseyVictim Carol Collins-Swasey, 76, was a retired real estate broker and active Red Cross volunteer who lived in Santa Rosa, California, for over 30 years, family member Roxanne Swasey told ABC News."She was successful, career-focused and very hardworking. She was quick-witted with a great sense humor and an animal lover," Roxanne Swasey told ABC News via email. "Married for 27 years to her husband, Jim Swasey, she was a positive influence on a lot of people's lives in helping them buy homes and felt a lot of gratitude in being able to do so."Arthur and Suiko GrantArthur Grant, 95, and Suiko Grant, 75, of Santa Rosa, died at their home of 45 years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.Grant was flying for Pan American World Airways when he met his wife, who was born in Japan, the newspaper reported.They are survived by two daughters and a granddaughter, the newspaper said.Lynne PowellLynne Anderson Powell, 72, who had been recovering from mouth cancer, died trying to flee the fire, her husband, George Powell, told the San Francisco Chronicle.When the fire neared their Santa Rosa home, she left the house before he did, he said, telling the newspaper, "I thought my wife was out. I thought she was going to be safe."But in the midst of the fire and smoke, she allegedly drove off the side of the road, the newspaper said.“What I didn’t know is I had passed her,” George Powell told the newspaper. “She was down in a ravine. And I had no idea she was down there. If I had known that, I would’ve gone down with her. I would’ve gone to try and find her.”“She always had my back,” he said of his wife, the newspaper reported. “She tried to make life OK for me, regardless of what she was going through.”Valerie EvansValerie Lynn Evans, 75, a mother and wife, died at her home in Santa Rosa while trying to save her dogs, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.She was known as an animal lover and had horses, goats, dogs, a mule and a steer at her home, the newspaper said.Carmen BerrizCarmen Caldentey Berriz, 75, died in the arms of her husband of 55 years, the San Francisco Chronicle
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  • Facebook - Napa Valley Equine(NAPA, Calif.) -- Rescuers found an unlikely animal in need of evacuation at a remote location amid the raging Northern California wildfires.When a search-and-rescue team found the 200-pound, 85-year-old tortoise Friday, they quickly gathered a crew, led by Napa County Animal Services, to relocate the animal, according to Napa Valley Equine, an animal hospital.The facility posted a video to Facebook showing a team of four people, including two veterinarians, lifting the large reptile onto a tarp and then into a wheelbarrow in order to get it off the property as quickly as possible.Fire officials have called this one of the deadliest outbreaks of wildfires to ever hit the state, killing at least 40 people and destroying about 5,700 structures in the past week.
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  • Erik Hanson(NEW ORLEANS) -- A desperate search for a missing Louisiana worker has continued into Monday after an explosion occurred on a large oil rig Sunday night, authorities confirmed to ABC News.
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  • Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of desertion with intention to shirk duty and misbehavior before the enemy stemming from his 2009 disappearance and capture by the Taliban.
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