California Wildfires Rage, 31 Known Dead, Over 200 Still Missing and Unaccounted For
Wildfires continued to rage on both ends of the Golden State, with gusty winds expected overnight which will challenge firefighters.
The Camp Fire that ravaged a swath of Northern California is the deadliest with 29 dead
A total of 29 bodies have been found so far from that fire, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told a news briefing Sunday evening. He said 228 people were still unaccounted for.
Ten search and recovery teams were working in Paradise that was destroyed, and in surrounding communities. Authorities called in a mobile DNA lab and anthropologists to help identify victims of the most destructive wildfire in California history..
People looking for friends or relatives called evacuation centers, hospitals, police and the coroner’s office.
Officials and relatives held out hope that many of those unaccounted for were safe and simply had no cellphones or other ways to contact loved ones. The sheriff’s office in the stricken northern county set up a missing-persons call center to help connect people.
Governor Jerry Brown said California is requesting aid from The Trump Administration.
President Donald Trump has blamed “poor” forest management for the fires. And Governor Brown told a press briefing that federal and state governments must do more forest management but said that is not the source of the problem.
“Managing all the forests everywhere we can does not stop climate change,” Governor Brown said. “And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we’re now witnessing, and will continue to witness in the coming years.”
Firefighters battling the Camp Fire with shovels and bulldozers, flame retardants and hoses expected wind gusts up to 40 mph overnight Sunday. Officials said they expect the wind to die down by midday Monday, but there was still no rain in sight.
More than 8,000 firefighters in all battled three large wildfires burning across nearly 400 sqm in Northern and Southern California, with out-of-state crews arriving.
Flames besieged Thousand Oaks, the Southern California city in mourning over the massacre of 12 people in a shooting rampage at a country music bar Wednesday night.
In Northern California, Sheriff Honea said the devastation was so complete in some neighborhoods that “it’s very difficult to determine whether or not there may be human remains there.
Authorities were also bringing in a DNA lab and said officials would reach out to relatives who had registered their missing loved ones to aid in identifying the dead after the blaze destroyed nearly 7000 buildings, nearly all of them homes.
The 29 dead in Northern California matched the deadliest single fire on record, a Y 1933 blaze in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, though a series of wildfires in Northern California wine country last fall killed 44 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes.
The Camp Fire on Sunday stood at 173 sqm and was 25% contained, but Cal Fire spokesman Bill Murphy warned that gusty winds predicted into Monday morning could spark “explosive fire behavior.”
About 150,000 people statewide were under evacuation orders, most of them in Southern California, where nearly 180 structures were destroyed, including a large mobile home community in rugged Santa Monica Mountains north of Malibu.
Governor Brown’s request for a major-disaster declaration from The Trump Administration would make victims eligible for crisis counseling, housing and unemployment help, and legal aid.
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