Crime/Disaster/Accident Environment/Wildlife International

California wildfires toll climbs to 58, over 130 missing (Lead)

PARADISE

San Francisco, Nov 15 (IANS) The death toll from the three raging wildfires in California has increased to 58, while authorities have continued their search for more human remains and also track down 130 people who remain unaccounted for.

The majority of the missing were reported from the town of Paradise, where the Northern California’s Camp Fire, deemed as the worst wildfire in the US state’s history, started on the morning of November 8, CNN quoted Butte County Sheriff and Coroner Kory Honea as saying on Wednesday.

About 461 people and 22 cadaver dogs were searching the town and other communities.

“We’re moving as fast as we can. It will take as long as it takes,” Honea said when asked about a timeline for the search.

“It’s an important thing that we get right. And I understand the issue (of residents wanting to return to their properties), and I’m balancing the competing interests.”

The sheriff’s department will begin taking DNA samples from people who are missing a family member on Thursday, he said.

Of the 58 victims, 56 were killed in Camp Fire while a second blaze, Woolsey Fire in Southern California’s Los Angeles and Ventura counties, has killed at least two people and destroyed nearly 500 homes.

A third Southern California blaze has burned 4,531 acres and was 96 per cent contained as of Wednesday morning.

According to Cal Fire, Camp Fire was 35 per cent contained. More than 10,000 structures have burned down, officials said.

Woolsey Fire was 52 per cent contained.

More than 230,000 acres burned in California in the past week. That’s larger than the cities of Chicago and Boston combined.

In 30 days, firefighters have battled more than 500 blazes, said Cal Fire, the state’s forestry and fire protection agency.

President Donald Trump received a briefing about the fires from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long, who were in California.

More than 300,000 people have been forced from their homes statewide. Most of those live in Los Angeles county, where 170,000 were evacuated.

–IANS
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