At Least 23 Dead In California's Raging Wildfires

Saul Bowman
November 11, 2018

Maclean said no details were immediately available about the circumstances of the deaths and that the victims' badly burned condition would make identification hard.

People sidestepped metal that melted off cars and Jet-Skis and donned masks as they surveyed ravaged neighborhoods despite an evacuation order for all of Paradise, a town of 27,000 founded in the 1800s.

"The magnitude of destruction we have seen is really unbelievable and heartbreaking, and our hearts go to everybody who has been affected by this", said Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the California Office of Emergency Services.

"Right now we have not been able to investigate the situation because the area hasn't been rendered safe yet", L.A. County Sheriff's Department Deputy Grace Medrano told NPR. "Most of them were immobile with walkers, or spouses that were bed-ridden, so we were trying to get additional units to come and try and help us, just taking as many as we could", he said, describing the community as having "a lot of elderly, a lot of immobile people, some low-income with no vehicles".

The bodies of five people were found in or near a vehicle, and the other four were in or outside a home.

Firefighters are battling raging blazes at both ends of California, but there is little hope of containing the flames anytime soon.

So far, all the dead have been reported in Paradise, where more than 6,700 buildings - majority residences - have been consumed by the late-season inferno.

As of Saturday afternoon, the Camp Fire had blackened more than 100,000 acres (40,500 hectares) at the edge of the Plumas National Forest.

The Arizona crews could be in California for two weeks or more.


The "attacking" message is "ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning" to the victims, the California Professional Firefighters union responded, calling Trump's Saturday tweet "dangerously wrong".

What's more, he said, most of the state's forests are managed by the federal government. About 35 people have been reported missing, authorities said.

Officials say the state of California has never seen anything like it.

Almost 6,500 residences have been destroyed and another 15,000 threatened, according to emergency officials.

At least 150 houses were destroyed in the county, and more than 200,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. "We pretty much had enough time to get the dogs in the trunk".

It also shows smoke from the Hill and Woolsey Fires in southern California, which by Saturday morning had burned 4,531 acres and about 70,000 acres, respectively. Authorities expect that strong northeastern winds will start up again in the evening, potentially spreading across one of California's biggest lakes into the city of Oroville. "I just pray the winds are in our favour".

The Camp Fire has burned its way into state history as the most destructive blaze on record in less than three days, destroying over 6,700 homes and commercial structures.

"Our focus is on the Californians impacted by these fires and the first responders and firefighters working around the clock to save lives and property - not on the President's inane and uninformed tweets", Evan Westrub, a spokesman for California Governor Jerry Brown said in an email.

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