California wildfires 'deadliest' in state history

Monday, November 12, 2018

The death toll from a wildfire in Northern California has risen by six to 29, matching the deadliest in state history.

Wildfires continue to rage on both ends of the state, with gusty winds expected overnight which will challenge firefighters - the statewide death toll stood at 31 and appeared certain to rise

The fire, which has been named 'Camp Fire', ravaged a swathe of Northern California.

A total of 29 bodies have been found so far from that fire, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told a news briefing on Sunday evening. Nearly 230 people were still unaccounted for, he said.

At least five search teams were working in Paradise - a town of 27,000 that was largely incinerated on Thursday - 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.

Governor Jerry Brown said California is requesting aid from Donald Trump's administration.

The president has blamed "poor" forest management for the fires.

Mr Brown told a press briefing that federal and state governments must do more forest management, but said that was not the source of the problem.

"Managing all the forests in everywhere we can does not stop climate change," Mr 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 on Sunday.

Officials said they expect the wind to die down by midday on Monday, but there was still no rain in sight.

More than 8,000 firefighters in all battled three large wildfires burning across nearly 400 square miles in Northern and Southern California, with out-of-state crews arriving.

 

Celebrities forced from homes

Two people were found dead in a wildfire in Southern California, where flames tore through Malibu mansions and working-class Los Angeles suburbs alike.

The two severely burned bodies were discovered in a driveway in Malibu, where residents forced from their homes included Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian West and Martin Sheen.

Actor Gerard Butler said on Instagram that his Malibu home was "half-gone," and a publicist for Camille Grammer Meyer said the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star lost her home in the seaside enclave.

Flames also 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, Mr Honea said Butte County consulted anthropologists from California State University at Chico because, in some cases, investigators have been able to recover only bones and bone fragments.

A series of wildfires in Northern California wine country last fall killed 44 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes.