Southern rugby’s export boom

first_img29 June 2007Springbok captain John Smit will be playing his rugby in France for the next two years, joining what could become an exodus of top South African rugby players to Europe. Judging by similar moves by Australian and New Zealand players, the game could be in for a shake-up after the World Cup in France.Smit announced on Wednesday that he has accepted an offer to play for Cleremont Auvergne in 2008/09. Free State Cheetahs’ centre Marius Joubert is joining Smit there, while former Springbok Grant Esterhuizen is already on the club’s books.“Representing the Springboks since my debut in 2000 and also playing for my beloved Sharks was a real dream come true for me and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them,” Smit said on the Sharks website. “However, the time has come to make a change and move on in my professional career.”Smit’s decision notwithstanding, national coach Jake White, should he remain coach of the Springboks after the World Cup, has said he would still pick the hooker to captain the Boks. “Without a doubt, John’s ability to lead a team, coupled with his strength in the scrums and accuracy in the lineout, make him special,” White said.Andy Marinos, the manager of South Africa’s national rugby teams, said Smit had consulted SA Rugby throughout the process and “we respect his decision”.More international skippersSmit might not be the only Springbok captain heading for France. Ambitious French second division side Toulon recently announced that Victor Matfield, who led South Africa against New Zealand in Durban recently, has been signed.Matfield hasn’t yet confirmed the move. The French media, however, have quoted the lock as saying he has only a few loose ends to tie up and is committed to Toulon in principle.Former All Black captain Tana Umaga is both a player and the club’s general manager. He’s been very active signing players, and apart from chasing Matfield – viewed by many as the best lineout forward in world rugby – Umaga has signed Australia’s George Gregan, the most capped player in test, former All Blacks flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens, and Anton Oliver who, like Umaga, has led New Zealand.South Africans at ToulonToulon has a good number of South African players on its books, including Daniel Muller, Nicky Smit, Charl van Vliet, Nico Breedt, Norman Jordaan and Chris Rossouw, so it appears that settling settling in wouldn’t be a problem for Matfield.The club’s most recently announced signing, prop Lawrence Sephaka, brings the number of South African players, excluding Matfield, to seven.Toulon even has a South African coaching connection, with Tim Lane, who previously coached the Cats (now Lions) in Super Rugby and served as a Springbok assistant coach, in charge.While Matfield is 30 and probably doesn’t have that many years left in his career, another Springbok star, Schalk Burger, has drawn the interest of France’s Toulouse and England’s NEC Harlequins, and he is just 24 years of age.Currency issuesNaturally, South African rugby would rather not lose a young superstar to a northern hemisphere club, but it is an uphill battle for South Africa’s provinces and the SA Rugby Union – at current exchange rates the euro is worth close to R10, while the pound is worth over R14.It would be difficult, if not impossible, for South Africa to match the money Europe can offer players of the stature of Smit, Matfield and Burger.The list of players rumoured to be heading north doesn’t end there, however, and, if the number of New Zealanders and Australians also heading in that direction after the World Cup is any indication, a lot of South Africans will be joining them.UK callingPercy Montgomery, who previously had a stint in Wales with the Newport Gwent Dragons, has been linked with Perpignan, as has Bok winger Ashwin Willemse. Gerrie Britz has already signed a three-year contract with the club.Springbok flyhalf Butch James has reportedly been approached by English club Bath, while 39-test veteran De Wet Barry recently signed a two-year contract with Harlequins.Should a large number of frontline Springboks sign contracts with French and English clubs, there could be problems for SA rugby down the line.One need only to look back on England’s recent tour of South Africa and France’s tour of New Zealand, where both touring teams were missing many top players because of club rugby commitments.In both series, the southern hemisphere teams, at full strength, recorded record margins of victory over the northern hemisphere sides. South Africa thumped England 58-10 and 55-22, while the All Blacks hammered France 42-11 and 61-10.World rugby shake-up?Increasingly, countries are selecting teams for test matches that are not their strongest line-ups, but rather selections that are used to gauge whether players are potential World Cup players or not.The rugby world could be in for a big shake-up after the World Cup in France, with more watering down of national teams a definite possibility.An exodus of South African, New Zealand and Australian players could result in a weakened Tri-Nations competition; it could even end up with the southern hemisphere powers sending out third-string teams against the northern hemisphere.When England tackled the Springboks recently, 30 top players were unavailable for selection, mostly because of club commitments. The shoe could soon be on the other foot.SA players in EuropeBelow is a list of South Africans who played club rugby in France or England this past season, or who are set to play in Europe next season (A * indicates players linked with a move to a club, ^ indicates players who have recently signed contracts).Included in the list are a number of English, French, New Zealand and Welsh rugby internationals who were born and/or grew up in South Africa.FRANCEStade FrançaisPieter de Villiers (French international), Boela du Plooy, Brian Liebenberg (French international), Frans ViljoenToulouseDaan Human, Gaffie du ToitCleremont AuvergneGrant Esterhuizen, John Smit*, Marius Joubert*PerpignanGavin Hume, Gerrie Britz*, Percy Montgomery^, Ashwin Willemse^BourgoinRudi Coetzee, Wessel JoosteMontaubanBraam ImmelmanCastresDanie Saayman, Gerhard VoslooBriveVickus Liebenberg, Johan van Zyl, Hendrik Gerber, Charl van RensburgMontpellierDrikus Hancke, Rickus LubbeBayonneRob Linde, Jacques Deen, Sam Gerber, Eduard CoetzeeNarbonneHenk Eksteen, Retief Uys, Tinus van RensburgAgenWillem Stoltz, Adri Badenhorst, Pietman van Niekerk, Conrad StoltzToulouseSchalk Burger^Toulon (Division Two)Daniel Muller, Nicky Smit, Charl van Vliet, Nico Breedt, Norman Jordaan, Chris Rossouw, Victor Matfield^ENGLANDGloucesterRudi Keil, Jake BoerSaracensCobus Visagie, Neil de KockLondon IrishMike Catt (England international), Danie Coetzee, Faan RautenbachNEC HarlequinsStuart Abbott (England international), Hal Luscombe (Wales international), Andre Vos, Schalk Burger^BathPieter Dixon, Hottie Louw, Matt Stevens (England international), Michael Claassens, Butch JamesNewcastle FalconsRussell WinterWorcester WarriorsThinus Delport, Greg Rawlinson (New Zealand international)Northampton Saints Joe van Niekerk, Geoff Appleford (England international), Pat Barnard Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

McLean masters Transalp MTB stage race

first_img30 July 2014South Africa’s Andrew McLean and his Austrian teammate, Heinz Zorweg, claimed a dominant category victory and finished 20th overall at the 17th annual Bike Transalp international mountain bike stage race in Europe on the weekend.McLean teamed up with Zorweg for the seven-day 587km race from Oberammergau, Germany to Riva del Garda, Italy across the Alps mountain range.Led from start to finishCompeting in the Grand Master division (50 years and over), McLean and Zorweg led their age category from start to finish, claiming six stage wins in the process. But it’s their 20th place overall in a classy international field of full-time professional racers that impressed most.The race included a total of 19 227 metres of vertical ascent, making it one of the toughest climbing events in bicycle racing. Torrential rain on two stages made conditions even more challenging, while a stomach bug on day five reduced Zorweg to survival mode for the 100km leg with 2800 metres of climbing.‘That was tough!’“That was tough! There was a lot of climbing. Huge climbs compared to what we have in South Africa. We had hard rain, cold and heat throughout the event, so it was a real all-round challenge,” McLean said afterwards.“Heinz had two bad days, stage two, where he struggled with the cold and rain that we weren’t exactly prepared for in terms of clothing choice, and stage five, where he was ill. But he’s so tough and just kept soldiering on. He’s an incredible athlete.“I struggled a bit on some of the steep, technical descents. I wasn’t expecting such difficult downhill sections and had to go slow and walk some bits. The general skill level among riders in Europe is a lot higher than the level in South Africa, but it makes for a very complete mountain biking challenge,” he added.Dominant Absa Cape Epic winThe victory is the second long stage race win for McLean and Zorweg in 2014. The pair raced to a dominant Grand Masters Category title at the Absa Cape Epic in March, where they also placed a remarkable 15th overall.The German pairing of Jochen Kaess and Markus Kaufmann of Team Centurion Vaude, who briefly led the 2014 Absa Cape Epic before dropping to 10th place, won the Bike Transalp title overall for the second year in succession.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Groundspeak’s Lost & Found Celebration – Geocaching.com’s Lost & Found Video

first_imgGeocachers from around the world celebrated ten years of geocaching at Groundspeak Headquarters in Seattle, Washington on July 4th, 2010.  The Lost & Found Celebration brought together thousands of geocachers, dozens of Lackeys, Groundspeak’s mascot Signal the Frog, the Bubbleman, a dunk tank and The Founders of Geocaching.com.Geocachers were also able to explore the Fremont neighborhood and earn a trackable HQ tag by completing a scavenger hunt.Groundspeak CEO, President and Co-Founder Jeremy Irish gets dunked.There’s more celebrating to come. Stay tuned for additional plans to commemorate ten years of geocaching.Tell us, how have you celebrated a decade of geocaching?You can see even more geocaching adventures by watching our Lost & Found video series here.Share with your Friends:More SharePrint RelatedGroundspeak Weekly Newsletter – January 5, 2011January 5, 2011In “Groundspeak’s Weekly Newsletter”Groundspeak Weekly Newsletter – 6/3/2010May 22, 2010In “News”Geocaching Caption Contest 9 – Win a Barely Coveted PrizeJuly 21, 2010In “Community”last_img read more

Will BPMN 2.0 make BPEL irrelevant?

first_imgAs technology is speeding up, the lifecycle of standards is shrinking.  Business Process Execution Language or BPEL is one good example.  BPEL has its origins in competing standards sponsored by IBM and Microsoft, WSFL and Xlang.   The two languages were merged in April 2003 and over just a period of three years BPEL has become the most popular business process execution language.  BPEL is used extensively in SOA environments because BPEL was designed with Web Services in mind and this matches well with the tight coupling of SOA and Web Services.  While generally complementary, BPEL is now being challenged by a different technology from Object Management Group OMG called Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN).BPEL is a language that describes the flow and coordination of interactions between published business component interfaces.  Typically those interfaces are implemented as Web Services.  Note that the “EL” at the end of the BPEL acronym refers it as an “execution language” as distinguished from a “notational language”.  What this means is that while BPEL is a “workflow tool”, it doesn’t really provide any kind of graphical layout modeling capabilities.  As such, it is a fairly low-level language based on XML that provides a standard way for describing the business process flow.  BPEL language is used to create instructions that are fed into a BPEL server that in turn coordinates the activities of the business process.Working with raw BPEL requires a solid understanding of XML and software logic.  BPEL requires that business requirements be first captured and translated before being rendered into the BPEL logic.  The gap between specification and BPEL implementation can isolate business analysts from IT groups.  The solution is to bridge the gap between these two groups by creating higher level model tools that allow the graphic creation of a the business process flow and output BPEL language.  These kind of tools exist, but there is no standard for these higher level tools.  This is where BPMN comes in the picture by attempting to standardize business process modeling.BPMN is a notational language that can graphically describe business processes.  With BPMN, the process flow is depicted with a network of lines showing interactions between components represented as shapes like circles, rectangles and diamonds.  It provides standardization in creating workflow diagrams.  Graphic workflows represent the classic image of what “Workflow” is all about.Because BPMN describes the business process from a higher-level perspective, it can include information about human steps and interactions in the process that fall outside of the control of software.So, BPMN and BPEL seem to be complementary technologies and perhaps that is how the two will develop:  BPMN tools would be used during business analysis and modeling, and from the BPMN model, a BPEL representation would be generated and output and used for execution.Stepping back a little more though we see that BPMN and BPEL both express the flow of the business process, but the BPMN process model representation is more useful to the business analyst.  BPMN is addressing the model level and BPEL addresses execution.  Because of that, the importance of having a standard for the execution language is less relevant.  BPMN models can be exchanged and exactly how the models are translated and executed is less relevant.What happens next isn’t clear.  It should be noted that BPEL may further evolve and this is likely to happen because of its current high level of acceptance.  Another factor in how this all plays out is whether BPMN will be actually accepted.  OMG intiatives have not always been met with unanimous acceptance.  Right now though the reaction to BPMN 2.0 seems positive, so it is likely that BPMN-based tools should begin appearing.In any event, the good thing is that after many years of very many proprietary tools for both business process modeling and execution that the industry will be moving towards standardization.  At Formtek, we frequently see business solutions comprised of both ECM and BPM components, and as a partner with Oracle, we are very familiar with Oracle’s BPEL Process Manager.  Both Oracle and IBM have been strong proponents of BPEL technology.  It will be interesting to see the evolution of these technologies and the response of leading vendors like Oracle in this area over the next 18-24 months.last_img read more

The ReadWriteWeb Thanksgiving Day Parade

first_imgLike us, you’ve probably just come out of a tryptophan-inspired coma on a relative’s couch and are jonesing for some tech news. Unfortunately, the newsmakers are likely in the same position. While we cull the tubes for Internet-related happenings, check out this panoply of sites, apps, curiosities, trends and more.Happy Thanksgiving!“Somewhat” Frank Gruber Is Thankful For His New Web ProjectOur good friend Frank Gruber has been working on Thankfulfor.com, a social gratitude journal. Gruber writes that he and partner Jen Consalvo wanted to create “a forum for expressing gratitude routinely as a foundation for happiness and well-being.”Frank and Jen with Sir Richard Branson earlier this year.“People come to the site and post what they are thankful for to their personal journal of thanks. People can also choose to send each Thankfulfor post to their social network on Twitter (each post starts with the #thankfulfor hashtag) extending the good vibes far and wide.”During the holiday season, Gruber’s hosting a Gratitude Challenge for the remainder of the holiday season to encourage users around the world to spread the love. A great idea from a couple of great people!Helping the Hungry Through YouTube VideosMost of the Americans reading this are probably ridiculously stuffed with turkey and the associated edibles, but the good folks at YouTube recognized our annual gluttony as a great opportunity to help the less fortunate.Using their own homepage and blog as a platform, the site asked users, a.k.a. Video Volunteers, to create videos to promote the hunger-related nonprofit of their choice. along with the organization Feeding America and special curator David Arquette, YouTube has selected three submissions on the site. Here’s one we liked: Take heart, online retailers! Stats for traffic coming from email marketing are actually quite robust. Are email marketers with cleverly presented bargains succeeding in these times of woe and want? This seems to be the case.SocialVibe’s Facebook App Aims to Feed Folks in NeedSocialVibe is all about helping brands and users create positive social change. In a typical SocialVibe setup, a brand “sponsors” users, who take small actions and engagements to raise money for the charity of their choice.The new SocialVibe Facebook app involves partnerships with multiple brands and allows users to help feed the hungry through the UN World Food Programme. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Next week, curator Morgan Freeman will kick off another round of submissions, this time focusing on human rights.Search Traffic Gets Seasonal, Economy Remains SlowHitwise research director Heather Dougherty writes that year after year, Thanksgiving is the peak day for Internet visits to major retail websites, outstripping Black Friday, the day after Christmas, and other traditional big shopping days. Typically, for search engines, Thanksgiving also marks a peak in user searches for major retailers.However, yearly trends show significant drops in traffic and searches between 2007 and 2008. And, Doughtery writes, “The daily visits to the Retail 500 are down compared to last year leading up to the big holiday weekend.” Check out the purple line on this graph; it represents search traffic for major retail brands leading up to the holiday, and it’s measurably lower than in previous years: 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts center_img jolie odell Users create virtual Thanksgiving tables, choose one of three decor themes, pick food items to bring, and and invite friends. By engaging in simple, free brand interactions, users are able to furnish their and their friends’ tables with turkeys, mashed potatoes, and all the traditional dishes – and best of all, each food item in the app equates to a specific number of meals the UN World Food Programme will be able to provide to hungry families and individuals.That wraps up this year’s Thanksgiving around the web. What new sites, apps, or campaigns did you notice and love this year? Tell us all about them in the comments! Also, the orange line on this graph shows site traffic stats for the same group of retailers. It, too, shows a decline from traffic in previous years. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#Digital Lifestyle#web last_img read more

Here’s What Stripe, Stealth Payment Startup Backed by PayPal Founders, Will Do

first_img8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Tags:#news#web Related Posts A large number of entrepreneurs and investors are betting that the Internet is going to disrupt financial services just like it’s disrupted so many other industries. Stripe is one of those, it’s a stealthy startup aimed to make online payments super simple. It’s being built by three Irishmen in Silicon Valley and has reportedly amassed a few million dollars in funding before it’s even launched, from some of the very top investors in technology including from Paypal founders Peter Thiel and Elon Musk.Michael Arrington got the scoop tonight, posting details on the funding of a company known about by a just few observers; Reuters financial blogger Felix Salmon already followed the company on Twitter, for example, but has said before that he prefers to let other people report scoops first and then try to provide superior analysis later. This is a company we’ll be hearing a whole lot about in the future. According to Arrington, Stripe has raised money from PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, Google and YouTube backers Sequoia Capital, the super-hot Andreesen Horowitz and Ron Conway’s fund SV Angel. (The $2m that TechCrunch reports was invested seems surprisingly small for a crowd like that.) What makes Stripe different? It’s going to focus on data portability.Little is publicly known about Stripe so far, but here’s what we’ve heard from a source deep inside Google.Stripe will enable any developer to add payment and billing functionality to their own application with a JSON API that can be connected to in 5 minutes, with no branding requirements or directing users to the Stripe site. It will strive to be transparent and contemporary.The price? “An all-inclusive commission of 5%, and a per transaction fee of $0.30.” Though none of the founders originated in the US, due to the complexity of an arguably antiquated financial system, they say they will be limited at first to payments between US parties. Founders Patrick Collison, John Collison and Darragh Buckley appear to be focused on providing a nice, clean, developer-centric payment platform that they and their investors think could take on the world.What’s Most Interesting About StripeWhat’s most interesting about the company is its philosophy:The founders of Stripe feel very strongly about data portability. We’ll try to keep you with us by offering a better product than all of our competitors, but we won’t keep you by locking you in. If you want to leave us for somebody else, we’ll help you migrate your credit card data in a secure and PCI-compliant way. We’re programmers at heart, and we strongly believe in open systems and a level playing field.That sounds great. Given the pedigree of this startup’s investors, it will likely join pre-launched developer-centric banking startup Banksimple on a short list of high-profile efforts to shake up the future of finance from the bottom up.center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… marshall kirkpatricklast_img read more

Senior players object to cut in fee if teams fail to end in Top 3

first_imgTop Indian cricketers, who have been part of different teams of Indian Premier League (IPL), have objected to a clause in their contract with the respective franchises that denies them 20 per cent of their fees in case their team fails to finish among the top three.The clause has been introduced for season IV. As per the rule, if the teams fail to qualify for the Champions League (top three IPL teams make it to the international league), the players would get only 80 per cent of their fees.The players of the 10 IPL teams read the newly-introduced fine print in their contracts only after the January 8-9 auction. They collectively approached Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Shashank Manohar with their complaint last week.At the meeting, the players said that the clause was unfair, and a breach of their trust. Manohar assured them that the matter would be discussed at the IPL governing council meeting on February 4.However, the team owners insisted there was nothing unfair in the clause as the players’ payment was meant to be for both the IPL and the Champions League.The clause was part of the contract of only those players whose names figured during the auction. Uncapped players would get full payment regardless of how their teams do.last_img read more

Amber Guiboche missing in Winnipeg

first_imgAPTN National NewsAs political rhetoric continues with missing and murdered women cases and how the $10 million should be used, another family in Winnipeg fears it is facing a dark reality.APTN National News reporter Tiar Wilson has this story.last_img

Inter Vs PSV is the most important match since my leadership

first_imgAhead of Champions League match between Inter and PSV, Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti responded to questions from journalists at the Suning Training Centre.Spalletti said during a Press conference as quoted in club’s website, that the match with PSV is the most important ever since he joined the club as a coach.“This match is the most important one since I’ve been here and it represents the next step that follows on from Lazio vs. Inter on 20 May. Since I’ve been here, we’ve got the points and put in the performances that we needed.”“ Now, we’re here to play for a spot in the last 16 on the final day of the group stage. We’re all aware of the importance of this game, the players are working really well.”Romelu Lukaku, Serie A, Inter MilanCapello calls Lukaku “a modern striker” Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 The former Italian manager believes Romelu Lukaku is perfectly suited for Antonio Conte’s Internazionale Milan in the Serie A.“We know that qualification won’t just depend on our result but I’d imagine that those at Barcelona would be offended if we continue to doubt their professionalism. They’re a serious club with real professionals, we can’t look at their game.”“ We need to only focus on the PSV game and it’s important to remember that they were in a higher pot of the draw than us.”“Inter certainly hasn’t lost a sense of conviction even if we showed some small lapses in concentration in the last game over the course of the 90 minutes.”“ We’ve played really strong teams like Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus of late and we’ve played on an equal footing. Today, the difference between us and teams of that standard is consistency over the course of an entire season.”last_img read more

Northern California wildfires leave 17 dead and hundreds looking for loved ones

first_img By JEFF CHIU and ELLEN KNICKMEYERAssociated Press  SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) – Hundreds more firefighters and law enforcement officials headed Tuesday to Northern California to battle wildfires that have killed at least 17 people, including a 100-year-old man and his 98-year-old wife who were unable to escape their burning home.  Authorities hoped cooler weather and lighter winds would help crews get a handle on the fires, which are among the deadliest in California history and are still burning completely uncontained.  “The weather has been working in our favor, but it doesn’t mean it will stay that way,” said Brad Alexander, a spokesman of the governor’s Office of Emergency Services.  The extra firefighters came from throughout California and Nevada. The extra law enforcement officers will help with evacuations and guard against looting, Alexander said.  At least 100 people have been injured and 2,000 homes and businesses destroyed, according to authorities, who warned that all those figures were expected to climb in the coming days as more information is reported.  Among the dead were Charles and Sara Rippey, who were married for 75 years and lived at the Silverado Resort in Napa.  “The only thing worse would have been if one survived without the other,” their daughter, Ruby Gibney told Oakland television station KTVU.  More than 400 miles away, flames imperiled parts of Southern California, too. Thousands of people were displaced by a wildfire that destroyed or damaged 24 structures, including homes. Hot, dry Santa Ana winds swept fire along brushy outskirts of Orange County suburbs and equestrian properties southeast of Los Angeles. More than a dozen schools were closed.  The blaze, which disrupted major commuter routes, spread over nearly a dozen square miles in less than 24 hours as a squadron of helicopters and airplanes bombarded it with water and retardant, and an army of firefighters grew to 1,100 by Tuesday morning.  At the other end of the state, residents who gathered at emergency shelters and grocery stores said they were shocked by the speed and ferocity of the flames. They recalled all the possessions that were lost.  “All that good stuff, I’m never going to see it again,” said Jeff Okrepkie, who fled his neighborhood in Santa Rosa knowing it was probably the last time he would see his home of the past five years standing.  His worst fears were confirmed Monday, when a friend sent him a photo of what was left: a smoldering heap of burnt metal and debris.  Some of the largest of the 14 blazes burning over a 200-mile region were in Napa and Sonoma counties, home to dozens of wineries that attract tourists from around the world. They sent smoke as far south as San Francisco, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) away.  Sonoma County said it has received about 200 missing-person reports as family and friends sought to locate loved ones. It’s possible that many or most of the missing are safe but simply cannot be reached because of the widespread loss of cellphone service and other communications.  Much of the damage was in Santa Rosa, a far larger and more developed city than usually finds itself at the mercy of a wildfire. The city is home to 175,000 residents, including both the wine-country wealthy and the working class.  The flames were unforgiving to both groups. Hundreds of homes of all sizes were leveled by flames so hot they melted the glass off of cars and turned aluminum wheels into liquid.  Former San Francisco Giants pitcher Noah Lowry, who now runs an outdoor sporting goods store in Santa Rosa, was forced to flee in minutes along with his wife, two daughters and a son just over 2 weeks old.  “I can’t shake hearing people scream in terror as the flames barreled down on us,” Lowry said.  His family and another evacuating with them tried to take U.S. 101 to evacuate but found it blocked by flames, and had to take country roads to get to the family friends who took them in.  A 90-mile (145-kilometer) stretch of the highway is framed by the flames and a major concern overnight, said Brad Alexander, a spokesman for the California Office of Emergency Services.  Highway 12, which winds through the heart of wine country, was also rendered unusable by the flames.  “Sonoma and Napa counties have been hit very hard,” Alexander said.  The flames forced authorities to focus primarily on getting people out safely, even if it meant abandoning structures to the fire.  Firefighters rushed to a state home for the severely disabled when flames reached one side of the center’s sprawling campus in the historic Sonoma County town of Glen Ellen.  Crews got the more than 200 people from the threatened buildings, one firefighter said, as flames closed within a few dozen feet.  Fires from ruptured gas lines dotted the smoky landscapes of blackened Santa Rosa hillsides. Fire trucks raced by smoldering roadside landscaping in search of higher priorities.  The flames were fickle in some corners of the city. One hillside home remained unscathed while a dozen surrounding it were destroyed.  Kim Hoe, a 33-year-old tech worker from Penang, Malaysia, was staying at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, which was gutted by flames. He said the power went out around 1 a.m., and he and his colleagues started packing up when someone knocked on the door and told them to run.  “We just had to run and run. It was full of smoke. We could barely breathe,” Hoe said.  Late Monday, flames began coming over a ridge in an area bordering Oakmont and Trione-Annadel State Park, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Summer Black told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (http://bit.ly/2wLgBge ). Most of the Oakmont area was evacuated earlier in the day.  October has generally been the most destructive time of year for California wildfires. What was unusual Sunday, however, was to have so many fires take off at the same time.  Other than the windy conditions that helped drive them all, there was no known connection between the fires, and no cause has been released for any of them.  ___  Knickmeyer reported from Sonoma, California. Associated Press writers Paul Elias, Jocelyn Gecker, Sudhin Thanawala, Juliet Williams, Janie McCauley and Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco, John Antczak and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles, Alina Hartounian in Phoenix and Martha Bellisle in Seattle also contributed to this report.(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) KUSI Newsroom Posted: October 9, 2017 KUSI Newsroom, Northern California wildfires leave 17 dead and hundreds looking for loved ones Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter October 9, 2017last_img read more