Published: Thu, November 15, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Northern California fires death toll now at 48; many still missing

Northern California fires death toll now at 48; many still missing

At least 42 people have died in the Northern California wildfire that burned through the town of Paradise with shocking speed, making the Camp Fire the deadliest in state history.

President Donald Trump, who drew criticism over the weekend for erroneously blaming the fires on "gross mismanagement" of forests, approved California Governor Jerry Brown's request for a major disaster declaration on Monday.

"One of the hardest parts of this particular job is to provide you with an update on the recovery of human remains", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told reporters on Tuesday. "God Bless all of the victims and families affected".

Thousands of firefighters are working to control the so-called "Camp Fire", and by late Tuesday it was 35 percent contained.

The intensified effort to locate victims came on the sixth day of a blaze that incinerated more than 7,000 homes and other buildings, including most of Paradise, a town once home to 27,000 people.

Psssttt! While you're here we need your help. "Because I know the toll it takes on loved ones".

A massive plume rose suddenly at mid-morning in the Santa Monica Mountains near the community of Lake Sherwood, prompting authorities to send numerous aircraft to drop fire retardant and water on the blaze.

The Cedar Fire destroyed almost 3,000 structures, including 2,232 homes. As of Monday night, almost half of the evacuation centers in Chico, Oroville and nearby towns were at capacity.

Near Los Angeles the Woolsey Fire, which ignited last Thursday and doubled in size overnight, has torched 100,000 acres and killed at least two people.

So too are forests choked with undergrowth, small trees and other fuel after decades of fighting fires in areas where they used to occur naturally, according to former US Forest Service officials and experts. But it added that dry conditions and steep terrain will continue to pose a challenge.

Honea had previously said that 228 people were listed as missing, and his office also was working to determine the fate of almost 1,300 individuals whose loved ones had requested "well-being checks" on their behalf. Overall, 10 sets of remains were found in Paradise and three in neighboring Concow.

Toll rises to 42 in California’s ‘deadliest wildfire’, 228 people still missing
Along with a loss of life, an estimated 435 structures were destroyed and another 24 were damaged. The smoke does not pose a health threat to people in the Great Lakes region, experts said.

Many victims in Paradise are believed to have been elderly residents or people with mobility issues who would have found evacuating more hard.

The so-called Camp Fire is on its way to being the most expensive in the history of the state.

"It will take a whole combination of things, from changes in zoning regulations to applying fire back to the landscape in certain context to try to refuel that way", he says.

The Woolsey fire, which is 47 percent contained, had caused two fatalities, scorched over 97,600 acres and destroyed 435 structures, while the Hill fire, which is 94 percent contained, had burned 4,531 acres. The fire that broke out in the Thousand Oaks area - which had already been coping with a mass shooting - is blamed for two deaths.

How did Woolsey Fire start?

"Without any rain and with the persistence of dry air there are likely to be more fires, but without the strong winds the flames will not spread as quickly", Gaulter said.

"We're starting to get a handle on this fire", said Captain Brian McGrath of the Ventura County Fire Department in an online briefing.

In an email to NPR, the CPUC says it "will incorporate PG&E's and Edison's incident reports. into its staff investigations to assess the compliance of electric facilities with applicable rules and regulations in fire impacted areas".

Some victims who lost homes in the Camp Fire on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), alleging the company's negligence caused the fire.

A message board at a shelter for the many people who fled California's deadliest wildfire is filled with photos of the missing, as well as pleas for any information about relatives and friends.

Like this: