California Wildfires Latest
At least 11 people have now died in what has become one of the most destructive wildfires ripping through north and south California. More than 250,000 people have had to evacuate their homes to avoid three major blazes in the state.
Firefighters were powerless in stopping a wildfire destroying the northern town of Paradise, where nine people died and 35 are missing. Another fire swept into the affluent southern beach resort of Malibu on Friday and has now doubled in size.
Two more people have died in what is known as the Woolsey fire, which now covers an area of 70,000 acres (28,000 hectares).
Among the towns under evacuation orders is Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people in a rampage on Wednesday.
“The magnitude of the destruction of the fire is unbelievable and heartbreaking,” said Mark Ghilarducci, of the California governor’s office.
President Trump has responded by blaming what he called gross mismanagement of the forests and warned of funding cuts.
Meteorologists have warned that dangerous conditions may continue well into next week, but firefighters are hoping to take advantage of a temporary lull in the wind fanning the flames.
Where is the Woolsey Fire?
The blaze started on Thursday near Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles (64km) north-west of central Los Angeles. Another blaze, the Hill Fire, started at about the same time, also near Thousand Oaks.
On Friday, the flames jumped Highway 101 and headed into coastal areas.
All residents have been ordered to evacuate.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s Chief John Benedict said on Saturday that two people had been found dead but provided no details on the deaths.
The actor Martin Sheen was briefly reported missing but later found on the beach.
Firefighters have not managed to build containment barriers around the fire but hope to make some progress throughout Saturday.
Where is the Camp Fire?
The 20,000-acre (8,100-hectare) fire north of Sacramento started in the Plumas National Forest on Thursday and quickly engulfed the town of Paradise.
Residents fled for their lives as more than 6,700 homes and businesses were destroyed, making the fire the most destructive in the state’s history. The flames moved so fast that some had to abandon their cars and escape the town on foot.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told a news conference on Friday that the remains of five victims were found in or near burnt-out cars. Three others were found outside homes and one inside a home.
He said another 35 people were missing and three firefighters had been injured.
“This event was the worst-case scenario,” he said. “It was the event we have feared for a long time.”
Rescuers used a bulldozer to push abandoned cars out of the way in order to reach a hospital and evacuate patients as the fire engulfed the building, Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter said.
“There’s nothing left standing,” said Scott Maclean, the state’s forestry and fire protection spokesman.
The fire has now been partially contained.
Fire officials have also issued evacuation notices for parts of Chico, a town of 93,000 people north of Sacramento.
The three blazes are among 16 currently active fires in California . Officials have put most of Northern California under a Red Flag Warning, which means “extreme fire behaviour” can occur within 24 hours.
The region has grappled with serious wildfires in recent years, including the worst in the state’s history – the Mendocino fire in 2018.
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