Calif. wildfires: At least 9 dead, 6,700 structures lost

File Image: Gephardt Daily
Nov. 10 (UPI) — The Camp Fire in California has killed at least nine people and torn up more than 6,700 structures, becoming the most destructive wildfire to property in state history, officials said Saturday.

In northern California, the blaze has burned through 100,000 acres and is 20 percent contained, Cal Fire said Saturday morning. In the southern part of the state, wildfires have charred about 40,000 acres.

Among the nine people killed by the Camp Fire, four were found in vehicles burned by the fire, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office said. Another individual was found outside a vehicle, three bodies were found outside homes and one was found inside the home. The victims have not been identified.

Sheriff deputies continue to search for bodies under the rubble and are fielding 35 official missing persons reports. The American Red Cross issued an alert for residents to register as safe and well.

On Thursday, the Camp Fire swept through the town of Paradise in northern California and, aided by strong northeast winds, later spread through more territory to add to one of the worst fire seasons on record — with more than 1 million acres charred.

President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for the state Friday, but tweeted Saturday morning a threat to pull funding in the future over “gross mismanagement.”

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

The Camp Fire has destroyed 6,453 homes and 260 commercial buildings in the area around Paradise, making it the most destructive to buildings in state history, surpassing the Tubbs Fire,, which destroyed 5,636 structures in Napa and Sonoma counties last year.

Paradise Vice Mayor Greg Bolin, who lost his home, said “the town is gone,” adding that early reports from fire officials suggest that 80 to 90 percent of the town had burned.

More than 3,000 firefighters were battling the blaze Friday evening with 67 fire crews, 440 fire engines and 23 helicopters, Cal Fire said. Three firefighters have been injured.

Winds are expected to pick up again Saturday and continue through the weekend.

“We are at a pivotal moment,” said Cal Fire Division Chief Todd Derum. “We are trying to take advantage of this moment and make the most progress we can. But the red flag warnings will come. It will kick this fire up, start new fires, or a combination of both.”

Though the cause of the fire remains under investigation, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. told regulators Friday that a high-voltage power line near the area experienced a problem before the first flames.

Meanwhile, two other fires rage in southern California.

One fire called the Woolsey Fire, which also erupted Thursday, has burned through 35,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in southern California with zero percent contained, according to L.A. County Fire. It caused evacuations in Malibu, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village, Agoura and unincorporated areas directly affected by the fire and caused celebrity residents to flee.

Another fire called the Hill Fire has burned through 4,531 acres with 25 percent contained, Cal Fire said on Twitter.

Over 20,000 customers were without power in southern California with the majority of outages in Los Angeles County, according to Southern California Edison.

On Saturday, a probe was underway to determine if two deaths in Malibu were related to the Woolsey Fire, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said.


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