California Wildfire Becomes Deadliest In History As 44 People Killed, Top Celebrities Loses Homes
The inferno that ravaged the wooded town of Paradise in northern California became the deadliest wildfire in the state’s modern history on Monday when officials said they had discovered the remains of 13 more people, bringing the death toll to 42.
According to NYTimes, The Butte County sheriff, Kory L. Honea, has said more than 200 people remain missing in and around the town, which sits in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and was popular with retirees.
“My sincere hope is that I don’t have to come here each night and report a higher and higher number,” Sheriff Honea said at a news conference Monday night.
The fire, which continues to rage in the hills and ravines east of the city of Chico, is also the most destructive fire in California history, with more than 7,100 structures destroyed, most of them homes.
Fires whipped by strong winds were raging through thousands of acres of forests and chaparral in both Northern and Southern California on Monday, having already wiped out a town in the Sierra Nevada and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents west of Los Angeles.
The inferno that incinerated the northern town of Paradise has razed a staggering 6,453 homes. As of Sunday night, more than 200 people were unaccounted for in Paradise, and officials are bracing for the possibility that the death toll could continue to rise significantly.
Here are the latest developments:
• The authorities said Monday night that they had identified the remains of four people killed in the Camp Fire, and released the names of three of them.
• President Trump on Monday evening said on Twitter that he had approved a request to declare the fires in California a major disaster, making people affected eligible for various types of federal government support.
The Camp Fire, which decimated Paradise, has already burned about 117,000 acres and is only about 30 percent contained.
• An estimated 435 structures have been destroyed in the Woolsey Fire west of Los Angeles, up from the 177 figure provided on Sunday night. Another 57,000 structures are believed to be under threat. Two people have died in that fire, which is 30 percent contained and has charred more than 90,000 acres in communities like Malibu and Thousand Oaks.
• Another blaze that has torn through 4,500 acres in Ventura County, the Hill Fire, was 85 percent contained.
• Traffic compounded the problems of those trying to escape. Read more here.
Three Victims Killed in Camp Fire Are Named
The authorities on Monday night released the names of three people who were killed in the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history.
They were identified as Ernest Foss, 65, from Paradise; Jesus Fernandez, 48, from Concow; and Carl Wiley, 77, from Magalia. Sheriff Honea said one other person had been identified, but officials were withholding the name pending notification of next of kin.
The names were released as the authorities announced that 13 more bodies had been found, bringing the total dead in the Camp Fire up to 42. Ten of the 13 were found in Paradise, and the remaining three in Concow.
“The numbers of losses of life are probably going to go much higher, I fear,” said Jim Broshears, Paradise’s emergency operations coordinator and the town’s former fire chief.
A concern over whether Paradise can rebuild
While the Woolsey Fire chased residents from one of the wealthiest ZIP codes of California, near Malibu, the Camp Fire hit a low-income retirement community in Paradise. Some residents now wonder how — or if — it will be rebuilt.
“It had no real economy,” James Hana said of Paradise, where he has lived since 2002. The town was a haven for residents who were elderly or retired, many of them in mobile homes. A quarter of its residents were over 65, according to census data from 2017. Fourteen percent of the population was below the poverty line.
“What are they going to do?” Mr. Hana said. “They’re not going to rebuild.”
Residents say Paradise began as a mining and lumber town but those industries dried up long ago. The few people employed in town mostly work at local businesses, like restaurants and auto body shops. He makes roughly $25,000 a year as a handyman, he said, enough to get by in Paradise. The median value of a house in Paradise was around $250,000, less than half the California median of $544,000, according to Zillow, the real estate data company.
Mr. Hana sat outside the Neighborhood Church in Chico, a makeshift shelter for displaced residents, wearing donated pajama pants and running shoes. His long beard was segmented with black elastic bands. He lost his home, motorcycle and nearly all of his other belongings. He escaped with his truck, a few bags of tools and his two dogs: Roxy, a Doberman pinscher, and Winter, a German shepherd.
“It’s either God’s way or nature’s way of telling me I needed to downsize,” he joked. “I just didn’t realize I needed to downsize to that extreme. Really, did we have to go that far?”
(CNN) – The deadly wildfires ripping through California have forced hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate, including some celebrities whose homes have been lost to the blazes.
Here’s how you can help those affected by the California wildfires
Neil Young, Robin Thicke, Gerard Butler and Miley Cyrus are among those whose houses were ravaged by the Woolsey fire raging north of Los Angeles in Southern California, according to the entertainers’ respective online posts.
Butler posted a photo on Twitter of the charred remains of his Malibu home and thanked firefighters for their courage.
Thicke posted a statement on Instagram thanking firefighters and volunteers who “risked their lives trying to save our home.”
Cyrus said on Twitter that she was “completely devastated” by the fires affecting her community.
“I am one of the lucky ones. My animals and LOVE OF MY LIFE made it out safely & that’s all that matters right now. My house no longer stands but the memories shared with family & friends stand strong. I am grateful for all I have left. Sending so much love and gratitude to the firefighters and LA country Sheriff’s department! ”
A subsequent tweet pointed to ways people could help those affected by the fires.
In a post on his official website decrying the impact of climate change, Young said “I have lost my home before to a California wildfire, now another.”
The Woolsey fire is one of three major blazes burning across California. As of Sunday night, the fire had spread to 85,500 acres and was 15% contained.
Together with the smaller Hill fire, which spans 4,531 acres, the Woolsey fire has so far destroyed 179 structures, but fire officials say another 57,000 are threatened. The Hill fire was 75% contained as of Sunday night.
The third fire, Northern California’s Camp fire, is the most destructive in state history and one of the deadliest. That blaze virtually burned the town of Paradise to the ground, destroying thousands of homes and structures. Some 228 people are unaccounted for.
At least 31 people have died in the fires: 29 in the Camp fire and two in the Woolsey fire.