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Fires rage in Santa Rosa, California on Tuesday
Fires rage in Santa Rosa, California on Tuesday

Hellish firestorms in northern California have killed at least 17 people and razed entire neighborhoods, destroying more than 2,000 structures. Dozens of other people have been reported missing, raising fears that the death toll could rise sharply.

The "disaster is relentless," Wednesday's front page of the San Francisco Chronicle reads above a photograph of the Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa, one of the areas hardest hit. It is also widespread, with multiple focal points, making it especially difficult for firefighters to control. As of early Wednesday, fires were still raging in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Yuba counties, all north of San Francisco.

Weather conditions aren't helping matters. Offshore winds that helped fuel the fires initially are expected to return Wednesday afternoon and continue into Thursday, the California daily reports. The blazes have also produced the "worst air quality ever in many parts' of the populous Bay Area, south of the fire zone. The cities and towns in the Bay Area together have more than 7.5 million residents.

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Fading Flavor: Production Of Saffron Declines Sharply

Saffron is well-known for its flavor and its expense. But in Kashmir, one of the flew places it grows, cultivation has fallen dramatically thanks for climate change, industry, and farming methods.

Photo of women harvesting saffron in Kashmir

Harvesting of Saffron in Kashmir

Mubashir Naik

In northern India along the bustling Jammu-Srinagar national highway near Pampore — known as the saffron town of Kashmir —people are busy picking up saffron flowers to fill their wicker baskets.

During the autumn season, this is a common sight in the Valley as saffron harvesting is celebrated like a festival in Kashmir. The crop is harvested once a year from October 21 to mid-November.

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