The death toll in the Camp Fire in Northern California has climbed to 23 — the third deadliest ever in California — and scorched 109,000 acres — the third-most destructive in the state, officials said Sunday.
On Saturday night, an additional 14 fatalities were reported by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office. Ten of the total victims were in Paradise.
In state history, two fires have killed more people: 29 in the 1933 Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles and 25 in the the Oakland Hills fire in 1991, according to The Mercury News. Last year, several fires in Northern California killed 44 people in the Wine Country.
The Camp Fire, which is 25 percent contained, was among three fires that begin Thursday in California. The others are in Southern California — the Woolsey and Hill fires. Two people have died in the Woolsey.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” he posted Saturday on Twitter. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
On Sunday morning he posted: “With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!”
Professional firefighter organizations said Trump’s messages are attacking the thousands of people fighting the devastating fires.
“The President’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines,” Brian K. Rice, the president of the California Professional Firefighters, said to CNN. “In my view, this shameful attack on California is an attack on all our courageous men and women on the front lines.”
He added: “Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography.”
On Saturday, personnel discovered five people’s bodies on one street in vehicles overtaken by the fire.
“There were people who weren’t able to get out,” Butte County Sheriff Kory L. Honea said at a makeshift command post at Butte College.
Because they were burned so badly, the bodies could not be identified immediately.
A total of 6,453 residences and 260 commercial buildings were destroyed, according to a Cal Fire posting on Sunday morning. That makes it the most destructive fire to property ever in the state. A total of 1,500 structures were threatened.
The fire had burned 109,000 acres.
Fire rescue resources included 4,050 personnel, 512 engines, 23 helicopters, 79 bulldozers and 33 water tenders.
Cal Fire said crews continued structure defense and fire suppression.
Strong winds in combination with low relative humidity and dry fuel moistutures “will continue to produce extremel fire behavior including dangerous rates of spread, and long range spotting,” Cal Fire said.
The fire still was threatening Stirling City and Paradise Pines, and was headed toward Oroville. But the fire appeared to be holding outside the city of Chico.
At least five of the nine schools in Paradise were destroyed, according to the California Teachers Assn.
Joe McNally and his wife, Anne Benoit, lost two houses, a barn, a garage, a stable and a Christmas tree farm.
“We lost 10,000 Christmas trees that were 2 to 10 years old,” Joe Benoit said to the Los Angeles Times. “We tried to defend them with garden hoses, but it wasn’t enough.”
His wife added: “Here’s the thing: It takes about 10 years to grow a Christmas tree. But I’m 70, and Joe is 71. So, with the crop gone, we won’t grow another.”
Around 50,000 people in Paradise and surrounding towns have been forced to evacuate.
In Butte County, 24,320 of 47,313 customers were without power, according to Powerutages.us.
Two other fires were raging in southern California.
The Woolsey Fire has burned through 83,275 acres and was 10 percent contained in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in southern California according to Cal Fire on Sunday morning. A total of 177 structures have been destroyed and 57,000 threatened, including celebrities’ homes. Assigned to the fire are 3,242 personnel, 418 engines, 19 helicopters, 56 bulldozers and 40 water tenders.
On Friday, two bodies were found in a driveway in a charred vehicle in the Malibu area, according to Lt. Nani Cholakians of the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office.
Approximately 250,000 people have been evacuated within the Los Angeles affected areas, including Bell Canyon, Oak Park, Thousand Oaks and unincorporated areas, according to L.A. County Fire.
Pepperdine University lifted a shelter-in-place order Saturday, and said all students were safe and free to leave.
Paramount Ranch, which has served as a location for TV shows and movies, including most recently HBO’s Westworld — was destroyed except for a chapel, according to the National Park Service, which operates the site in the Santa Monica Mountains. And the mansion used for ABC’s The Bachelorescaped destruction, according to City News Service.
Also in Ventura County, the Hill Fire has burned through 4,531 acres and was 70 percent contained, Cal Fire said. Two structures have been destroyed.
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