California authorities collect DNA to identify fire victims

16 November, 2018, 16:29 | Author: Frank Williams
  • After devastating loss of life and property here comes another hit from California wildfires

The Camp Fire that's burning in Butte County is the deadliest wildfire in California state history.

The Butte County disaster coincided with a flurry of smaller blazes in Southern California, most notably the Woolsey Fire, which has been linked with three fatalities and destroyed at least 500 structures in the mountains and foothills near the Malibu coast west of Los Angeles.

The wildfire - which started on November 8 - remains the deadliest in California state history, leaving more than 8,500 structures destroyed and 140,000 acres of land scorched.

The number of missing doubled to 631, after authorities earlier put the number closer to 300.

Firefighting efforts have made progress in recent days, with the fire 52 percent contained. Evacuees milling in the parking lot faced morning temperatures that dropped to just above freezing and many wore breathing masks for protection from lingering smoke.

At least 59 deaths have been reported so far from the sprawling blazes in northern and southern California and the toll is expected to rise as body recovery teams with sniffer dogs conduct searches.

Cal Fire said that 40 percent of the Camp Fire's perimeter had been contained, up from 35 percent, even as the blaze footprint grew 2,000 acres to 141,000 acres (57,000 hectares).

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Paradise sits on a ridge between two higher hills, with only one main exit out of town. Actor Gerard Butler said on Instagram that his house in Malibu was "half-gone".

"The ultimate goal is to get these people out of tents, out of their cars and into warm shelter, into homes", said Jessica Busick, who was among the first volunteers when she and her husband started serving free food from their Truckaroni food truck last week.

"It's cold and scary", said Lilly Batres, 13, one of the few children there, who fled with her family from the forested town of Magalia and did not know whether her home survived.

The blaze destroyed almost 8,800 homes in the former gold mining settlement.

President Donald Trump will travel to California on Saturday to meet with victims of the deadly wildfires that have scorched the state.

Authorities developed an evacuation plan that split the town of 27,000 into zones and called for a staggered exodus.

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