Northern California Wildfire: 42 Killed, Now Deadliest in Golden State History
Search teams have recovered the remains of at least 42 people killed by the devastating Camp wildfire that largely incinerated the town of Paradise in Northern California, making it the deadliest single wild-land blaze in the Golden State history, authorities said Monday.
The latest death toll, up from 29 tallied at the weekend, was announced by Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea at an evening news conference in the nearby city of Chico after authorities located the remains of 13 additional victims from a blaze dubbed the Camp Fire.
That fire already ranked as the most destructive on record in California, having leveled more than 7,100 homes and other buildings since it erupted Thursday in the Sierra foothills of Butte County, about 175 miles North of San Francisco.
Sheriff Honea said the number of people listed as missing in the disaster remained officially at 228, but added that his office had received more than 1,500 requests for welfare checks from people concerned about the fate of their loved ones. He said his office had managed to confirm the safety of the individuals in question in 231 of those cases so far.
More than 15,000 more structures remained listed as threatened Monday in an area so thick with smoke that visibility was reduced in some places to less than 1/2 a mile.
The bulk of the destruction and loss of life occurred in and around the town of Paradise, where flames reduced most of the buildings to ash and charred rubble Thursday night, just hours after the blaze erupted.
The 42 confirmed dead marks the largest loss of life ever from a single wild-land fire in California, Sheriff Honea said. It also far surpasses the all-time record number of deaths from a California wildfire: 29 in Y 1933 from the Griffith Park blaze in Los Angeles.
The deadly Woolsey Fire, raging across canyons and beaches of Southern California, could still be going a week from now, officials said Monday.
The wind-whipped blaze has consumed 91,572 acres since it started Thursday in Simi Valley, near the border of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, according to LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.
The fire was 20% contained by midday Monday. Though fire officials optimistically hope to have “knock down” status by the end of this week, full containment was still a ways off.
President Donald Trump Monday approved a major disaster declaration for California at the request of Governor Jerry Brown, hastening the availability of federal emergency assistance to fire-stricken regions of the state.
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