Tuesday, 19 February, 2019

Death toll hits 23 as 250,000 flee worst fires in California history

Firefighters work in dangerous conditions to fight the fast-moving fires in northern and southern California Justin Sullivan via Getty Images Firefighters work in dangerous conditions to fight the fast-moving fires in northern and southern California
Patty Aguilar | 14 November, 2018, 23:43

It's now the third-deadliest wildfire and the most destructive in state history.

And the death toll, which could rise, also makes it one of the deadliest.

Additional 40 miles per hour winds will blow across the Sierra Nevada foothills in Northern California near Sacramento where the so-called Camp Fire has claimed at least 23 lives.

But on Saturday morning, Trump threatened to pull federal funding for California wildfires if the state didn't "remedy" the situation.

Officials said the mandatory evacuations clogged the roads in Oak Park, making it hard to escape. "I will tell you that this weighs heavy on all of us, myself and especially those staff members who are out there doing important work, but certainly hard work".

Honea said that 508 reports of missing persons have been taken since Thursday, though the sherriff's office has narrowed that list down to 110 people. Officials hope numerous elderly on the list simply are elsewhere without cellphones or away to contact loved ones.

Hollywood celebrities were forced to flee as a devastating Southern California wildfire tore through mansions in the coastal community of Malibu.

Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Trey Epsy said crews created "water curtains" between homes to salvage the ones they could.

In Ventura County in Southern California, the Hill Fire, which began Thursday, has burned 4,531 acres and destroyed two buildings as of Monday evening, reported Cal Fire.

State and local fire, law enforcement and emergency management officials spoke to the public about the efforts in battling the blazes.

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The entire city of Malibu was under an unprecedented mandatory evacuation, in addition to areas south of the 101 Freeway, from the Ventura line to Malibu Canyon.

Councilman Jefferson "Zuma Jay" Wagner was injured while trying to save his home, which burned down, Councilman Skylar Peak told reporters Sunday.

In Malibu, investigators are looking into the deaths of two people after their bodies were found "severely burned inside of a stopped vehicle located on a long, residential driveway", Benedict said, but added that no further information was available. You know, so, whatever help you can get. He found his home leveled - a large metal safe and pipe work from his septic system the only recognizable traces. The safe was punctured with bullet holes from guns that went off in the scorching heat.

He lived in Paradise for almost 80 years, moving there in 1939, when the town had just 3,000 people and was nicknamed Poverty Ridge.

The devastation was so complete in some neighbourhoods that "it's very hard to determine whether or not there may be human remains there", Honea said.

The bodies were recovered in and around Paradise, California, a mountain community some 145km (90 miles) north of Sacramento left devastated by the Camp Fire, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott Maclean said. "We've had 'em come right up to the city limits - oh yeah - but nothing like this", he said.

"Mother Nature has given us a short reprieve ... but we know tomorrow Mother Nature's gonna turn her fan back on and the winds are going to start blowing", Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen told reporters.

In Southern California, 177 structures have been lost but more than 57,000 are in danger, fire officials said. Officials warned firefighters to wear their helmets and be careful of falling trees.

California emerged from a five-year drought last year but has had a very dry 2018. Much of the state hasn't seen rain in more than a month, according to CNN meteorologists, and the dry vegetation has only served to fuel the fires. She said she has had a house in Malibu since 1972 and "can't bear the thought of there being no Malibu".

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