California wildfire is joint deadliest in state history with 29 dead

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6378931/Wildfire-incinerated-Paradise-joint-deadliest-state-history-leaving-29-dead.html

Authorities have reported six additional deaths in a Northern California, raising the death toll to 29 and making it the deadliest wildfire on record in California history.

Butte County Sheriff Cory Honea said the human remains recovered on Sunday included five bodies found at homes and one in a vehicle in Paradise. 

Honea said the devastation was so complete in some neighborhoods that ‘it’s very difficult to determine whether or not there may be human remains there’.

‘In some cases, the only remains we are able to recover are bones or bone fragments,’ Honea said. 

He also announced that 228 people remain unaccounted for since the fire began Thursday and incinerated the foothill town.

The statewide total of deaths from wildfires reached 31. 

One of the fire’s victims was an ailing woman whose body was found in bed in a burned-out house in Concow, near Paradise.

Ellen Walker, who was in her early 70s, was home alone when the fire struck on Thursday, according to Nancy Breeding, a family friend. 

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Authorities have reported six additional deaths in a Northern California , raising the death toll to 29 and making it the deadliest wildfire on record in California history

Authorities have reported six additional deaths in a Northern California , raising the death toll to 29 and making it the deadliest wildfire on record in California history

This photo shows the Woolsey Fire over the Malibu hills. It was taken by Adam Fanton who shared it on Instagram with the caption: 'It's so heartbreaking to watch this wildfire spread through our beautiful California towns

This photo shows the Woolsey Fire over the Malibu hills. It was taken by Adam Fanton who shared it on Instagram with the caption: ‘It’s so heartbreaking to watch this wildfire spread through our beautiful California towns

Butte County Sheriff Cory Honea announced that 228 people remain unaccounted for since the fire began Thursday and incinerated the foothill town

Butte County Sheriff Cory Honea announced that 228 people remain unaccounted for since the fire began Thursday and incinerated the foothill town

The 29 deaths matched the deadliest single fire on record, a 1933 blaze in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, though a series of wildfires in Northern California wine country last fall killed 44 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes

The 29 deaths matched the deadliest single fire on record, a 1933 blaze in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, though a series of wildfires in Northern California wine country last fall killed 44 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes

The map above shows the three major fires currently alight burning in California, two in the south and one in the north

The map above shows the three major fires currently alight burning in California, two in the south and one in the north

The 29 deaths matched the deadliest single fire on record, a 1933 blaze in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, though a series of wildfires in Northern California wine country last fall killed 44 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes. 

‘This weighs heavy on all of us,’ Honea said. ‘Myself and especially those staff members who are out there doing what is important work but certainly difficult work.’

Ten search and recovery teams are 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.

By early afternoon, one of the two black hearses stationed in Paradise had picked up another set of remains. 

People looking for friends or relatives called evacuation centers, hospitals, police and the coroner’s office. 

Officials and relatives held out hope that many of those unaccounted for were safe and simply had no cellphones or other ways to contact loved ones. The sheriff’s office in the stricken northern county set up a missing-persons call center to help connect people.

Gov Jerry Brown asked President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster to bolster the emergency response and help residents recover.  

Trump has blamed ‘poor’ forest management for the fires. Brown told a press briefing that federal and state governments must do more forest management but said that’s not the source of the problem.

‘Managing all the forests everywhere we can does not stop climate change,’ 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.’

Brown’s request for a major-disaster declaration from Trump would make victims eligible for crisis counseling, housing and unemployment help, and legal aid. 

Strong Santa Ana winds returned to Southern California on Sunday, causing flare-ups of a huge wildfire that has scorched a string of communities west of Los Angeles, but no additional structures were believed to have been lost, authorities said. 

 One of the fire's victims was an ailing woman whose body was found in bed in a burned-out house in Concow, near Paradise. Ellen Walker, who was in her early 70s, was home alone when the fire struck on Thursday, according to Nancy Breeding, a family friend

 One of the fire’s victims was an ailing woman whose body was found in bed in a burned-out house in Concow, near Paradise. Ellen Walker, who was in her early 70s, was home alone when the fire struck on Thursday, according to Nancy Breeding, a family friend

Honea said the human remains recovered on Sunday included five bodies found at homes and one in a vehicle in Paradise. 'In some cases, the only remains we are able to recover are bones or bone fragments,' Honea said

Honea said the human remains recovered on Sunday included five bodies found at homes and one in a vehicle in Paradise. ‘In some cases, the only remains we are able to recover are bones or bone fragments,’ Honea said

By early afternoon, one of the two black hearses (pictured) stationed in Paradise had picked up another set of remains

By early afternoon, one of the two black hearses (pictured) stationed in Paradise had picked up another set of remains

Sgt Nathan Lyberger of the Yuba County Sheriff Department, prepares a bag to move human remains found at a burned out home at the Camp Fire on Sunday

Sgt Nathan Lyberger of the Yuba County Sheriff Department, prepares a bag to move human remains found at a burned out home at the Camp Fire on Sunday

People looking for friends or relatives called evacuation centers, hospitals, police and the coroner's office. Officials and relatives held out hope that many of those unaccounted for were safe and simply had no cellphones or other ways to contact loved ones. The sheriff's office in the stricken northern county set up a missing-persons call center to help connect people

People looking for friends or relatives called evacuation centers, hospitals, police and the coroner’s office. Officials and relatives held out hope that many of those unaccounted for were safe and simply had no cellphones or other ways to contact loved ones. The sheriff’s office in the stricken northern county set up a missing-persons call center to help connect people

THE FIRST OF 31 VICTIMS IS IDENTIFIED

One of the fire’s victims was an ailing woman whose body was found in bed in a burned-out house in Concow, near Paradise.

Ellen Walker, who was in her early 70s, was home alone when the fire struck on Thursday, according to Nancy Breeding, a family friend. 

Breeding said Walker’s husband was at work and called a neighbor to tell his wife to evacuate, but she was on medication and might not have been alert. 

He assumed she had escaped the inferno and was trying to find her at rescue centers until authorities confirmed her death late Friday.

‘Yesterday a fireman took him to the house to confirm, she apparently died in bed,’ Breeding said.

‘This is a devastating thing, and it’s happening to so many people,’ she added.

 

 

Officials said the wildfires may intensify due to the strong winds as more than 8,000 firefighters continue to battle the deadly infernos.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said Sunday evening that wind gusts up to 50mph are expected to continue through Tuesday.

Those conditions are similar to when the fire started Thursday and quickly destroyed the town of Paradise.

Huge plumes of smoke rose in the fire area, which stretches miles from the northwest corner of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley to the Malibu coast.

Airplanes and helicopters swooped low over hills and canyons to drop loads of fire retardant and water.

A one-day lull in the dry, northeasterly winds ended at midmorning.

‘Sadly, with these winds, it’s not over yet,’ Scott Jalbert, chief of Cal Fire’s San Luis Obispo Unit, said Sunday morning. 

Cal Fire spokesman Bill Murphy warned that gusty winds predicted into Tuesday could spark ‘explosive fire behavior’.

The lull allowed firefighters to gain 10 per cent control of the so-called Woolsey fire, which has burned more than 130 square miles in western Los Angeles County and southeastern Ventura County since Thursday.

Osby stressed there were numerous hotspots and plenty of fuel that had not yet burned, but at sunset he said there had been huge successes despite ‘a very challenging day’.

The count of destroyed homes remained at 177 but it was expected to increase when an update is reported Monday.  

Firefighters stand over human remains found at a burned out home at the Camp Fire on Sunday 

Firefighters stand over human remains found at a burned out home at the Camp Fire on Sunday 

Officials said the wildfires may intensify due to strong Santa Ana winds as more than 8,000 firefighters continue to battle the deadly infernos

Officials said the wildfires may intensify due to strong Santa Ana winds as more than 8,000 firefighters continue to battle the deadly infernos

The winds returned to Southern California on Sunday, causing flare-ups of a huge wildfire that has scorched a string of communities (pictured) west of Los Angeles, but no additional structures were believed to have been lost, authorities said

The winds returned to Southern California on Sunday, causing flare-ups of a huge wildfire that has scorched a string of communities (pictured) west of Los Angeles, but no additional structures were believed to have been lost, authorities said

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said Sunday evening that wind gusts up to 50mph are expected to continue through Tuesday. Those conditions are similar to when the fire started Thursday and quickly destroyed the town of Paradise

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said Sunday evening that wind gusts up to 50mph are expected to continue through Tuesday. Those conditions are similar to when the fire started Thursday and quickly destroyed the town of Paradise

Housing remains sit empty days after the Camp Fire swept through the town of Paradise

Housing remains sit empty days after the Camp Fire swept through the town of Paradise

The fire’s cause remains under investigation but Southern California Edison reported to the California Public Utilities Commission that there was an outage on an electrical circuit near where it started as Santa Ana winds blew through the region.

SoCal Edison said the report was submitted out of an abundance of caution although there was no indication from fire officials that its equipment may have been involved. 

The report said the fire was reported around 2.24pm on Thursday, two minutes after the outage.

Venture County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen hadn’t heard about the Edison report. ‘It wouldn’t surprise me’ if it turns out that winds caused equipment failure that sparked a fire, he said.

Spot fires continued to occur late Sunday afternoon near the Malibu campus of Pepperdine University, where 3,500 students were sheltering in place. 

The university said it was closing Malibu campus and its Calabasas campus to the north until November 26 but classes would be remotely administered online and through email.

ENTIRE CITY OF CALABASAS, WHICH IS HOME TO KIM, KHLOE AND KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN, IS EVACUATED

Authorities evacuated the entire city of Calabasas, which is home to Kim (left), Khloe (right) and Kourtney Kardashian (third from right), Sunday evening as the Woolsey Fire continued to devastate communities

Authorities evacuated the entire city of Calabasas, which is home to Kim (left), Khloe (right) and Kourtney Kardashian (third from right), Sunday evening as the Woolsey Fire continued to devastate communities

Authorities evacuated the entire city of Calabasas, which is home to Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, Sunday evening as the Woolsey Fire continued to devastate communities.

Calabasas City Manager Gary Lysik said in a statement: ‘For your safety, and the safety of your family, please collect necessary personal items and evacuate the City as quickly as possible, and please follow instructions by Law Enforcement.’

Lysik also encouraged residents of the area to monitor the city’s website for updates.  

Earlier in the day, the Calabasas city order only applied to Parkway Calabasas, including The Oaks, Vista Point, Westridge, Calabasas Hills and Calabasas Park Estates. 

By 8pm Sunday night, the entire city was under mandatory evacuation. 

Other celebrities in California lost their homes in the fire, including actor Gerard Butler and Camille Grammer Meyer of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

April Love Geary, Robin Thicke’s girlfriend, revealed on Sunday that their $2.4million mansion had burned to the ground.  

Kourtney’s neighborhood was saved by Phos-Chek, a flame retardant material that aids in stopping or slowing down fire.

Kourtney's neighborhood was saved by Phos-Chek, a flame retardant material that aids in stopping or slowing down fire. Pictured is the reality star's home

Kourtney’s neighborhood was saved by Phos-Chek, a flame retardant material that aids in stopping or slowing down fire. Pictured is the reality star’s home

Santa Ana winds, produced by surface high pressure over the Great Basin squeezing air down through canyons and passes in Southern California’s mountain ranges, are common in the fall and have a long history of fanning destructive wildfires in the region.

But fire officials say fire behavior has changed statewide after years of drought and record summer heat that have left vegetation extremely crisp and dry.

‘Things are not the way they were 10 years ago … the rate of spread is exponentially more than it used to be,’ said Lorenzen, urging residents to not put their lives at risk by trying to defend their own homes instead of evacuating.

That change has impacted the ability to move firefighting resources around the state, officials said.

‘Typically this time of year when we get fires in Southern California we can rely upon our mutual aid partners in Northern California to come assist us because this time of year they’ve already had significant rainfall or even snow,’ said Osby, the LA County fire chief.

With the devastation and loss of life in the Northern California fire, ‘it’s evident from that situation statewide that we’re in climate change and it’s going to be here for the foreseeable future,’ he said.

Airplanes and helicopters (pictured) swooped low over hills and canyons to drop loads of fire retardant and water

Airplanes and helicopters (pictured) swooped low over hills and canyons to drop loads of fire retardant and water

See the world’s largest tanker plane fighting Camp Fire

A Boeing 747-400 SuperTanker (above) arrived in Sacramento on Friday to help fight the massive wildfires

A Boeing 747-400 SuperTanker (above) arrived in Sacramento on Friday to help fight the massive wildfires

The Global SuperTanker, a Boeing 747 modified for fire suppression drops, arrived in Sacramento on Friday to fight the Camp Fire.

Residents in the area spotted the massive plane releasing flame retardant on a wildfire outside of Concow.

‘My dad took this video today from outside of Concow (Flea Mountain) while working on getting gates open for emergency personnel…. What a sight to see. Thank you to all the heroes…,’ Bree Hawkins wrote in the caption of a video shared on Facebook.

The privately-owned SuperTanker has flown at least five sorties over the Camp Fire since Friday, according to flight records.

The SuperTanker has almost twice the capacity of the next largest aerial tanker. It can deliver 19,200 gallons in one drop or segmented drops and has a top speed of 600mph.

The tanker system is approved for retardant, gel, foam and water drops or the combination of any two of these agents.

Ground servicing for another sortie takes approximately 30-35 minutes.

The SuperTanker's  fire suppression sortie over the Camp Fire on Saturday is seen in the tracking map above

The SuperTanker’s fire suppression sortie over the Camp Fire on Saturday is seen in the tracking map above

Mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect in the areas of the fire in Los Angeles County while neighboring Ventura County expects to lift some evacuations Sunday night. More than 170,000 people have been evacuated from the area. 

The Santa Ana winds fueled the fires and pushed them toward Malibu, right in the paths of dozens of stars’ mansions. 

Actor Gerard Butler and Camille Grammer Meyer of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ were among those whose homes were damaged or destroyed.

April Love Geary, Robin Thicke’s girlfriend, revealed on Sunday that their $2.4million mansion had burned to the ground. 

The 41-year-old singer said on Instagram that he, his girlfriend and his two kids are safe.

Authorities evacuated the entire city of Calabasas, which is home to Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, Sunday evening as the Woolsey Fire continued to devastate communities.

Calabasas City Manager Gary Lysik said in a statement: ‘For your safety, and the safety of your family, please collect necessary personal items and evacuate the City as quickly as possible, and please follow instructions by Law Enforcement.’

Lysik also encouraged residents of the area to monitor the city’s website for updates.  

As of Sunday evening, 29 people were found dead in Northern California’s Camp Fire and two were killed in Southern California’s Woolsey Fire.

Most of the bodies have been discovered in the town of Paradise, making Camp Fire the third deadliest fire in California history as well as the most destructive fire the state has ever seen. 

The Camp Fire has already burned through 109,000 acres and destroyed 6,713 buildings – most of them homes. As of Sunday morning, it was 25 per cent contained.

HOW ONE MAN SURVIVED THE DEADLY CALIFORNIA CAMP FIRE

As many fled to safety from the terrifying Camp Fire in Northern California, Matt Armbruster (pictured) stayed behind and waited the fire out

As many fled to safety from the terrifying Camp Fire in Northern California, Matt Armbruster (pictured) stayed behind and waited the fire out

As many fled to safety from the terrifying Camp Fire in Northern California, one man stayed behind and waited the fire out.   

Matt Armbruster refused to listen to officials who ordered evacuations after the blaze broke out last week. 

Armbruster and his dog managed to survive the inferno by hiding in a nearby creek, once he realized the fire was making its way toward his home. 

For nearly two hours, Armbruster stayed in the creek as the fire burned around him. 

Armbruster told CBS that he thought ‘for sure’ he was going to die.  

Luckily for him, he survived and so did his home. 

Armbruster and his dog managed to survive the inferno by hiding in a nearby creek (pictured), once he realized the fire was making its way toward his home

Armbruster and his dog managed to survive the inferno by hiding in a nearby creek (pictured), once he realized the fire was making its way toward his home

Firefighters battle a blaze at the Salvation Army Camp on Saturday in Malibu, California

Firefighters battle a blaze at the Salvation Army Camp on Saturday in Malibu, California

The Woolsey has spread to 83,275 acres and was 5 per cent contained as of Saturday night

The Woolsey has spread to 83,275 acres and was 5 per cent contained as of Saturday night

Photographer, Adam Fanton, snapped this photo just days before the devastating Woolsey Fire broke out

Photographer, Adam Fanton, snapped this photo just days before the devastating Woolsey Fire broke out

Woolsey has spread to 83,275 acres and was 5 per cent contained as of Saturday night. 

Progress was made on the lines of the smaller Hill fire to the west in Ventura County, which was 70 per cent contained at about seven square miles, and evacuations were greatly reduced. The Hill Fire has burned through 4,531 acres.

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries, Osby said.

Also injured was a well-known member of the Malibu City Council. Councilman Jefferson ‘Zuma Jay’ Wagner was injured while trying to save his home, which burned down, Councilman Skylar Peak told reporters Sunday.

Peak said Wagner was hospitalized but was expected to recover. Wagner runs Zuma Jay Surfboards, a longtime fixture on Pacific Coast Highway near the landmark Malibu Pier.

Police said two bodies were found ‘severely burned inside of a stopped vehicle’ on a long driveway in a sparsely populated stretch of Mulholland Highway in Malibu on Saturday, after the Woolsey Fire tore through the area.

Authorities said investigators believed the driver became disoriented and the car was overcome by fire.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s Chief John Benedict declined to offer additional details about the fatalities pending an official investigation. 

As the human death toll for the deadliest wildfire on record in California history reached 31 on Sunday, rescuers continued to risk their safety to save animals too. Animal volunteer evacuator Tamara Houston (left) is seen comforting Cathy Fallon outside Fallon's home 

As the human death toll for the deadliest wildfire on record in California history reached 31 on Sunday, rescuers continued to risk their safety to save animals too. Animal volunteer evacuator Tamara Houston (left) is seen comforting Cathy Fallon outside Fallon’s home 

Rescued animals were corralled on Zuma beach in Malibu, California. This included llamas (pictured)

Rescued animals were corralled on Zuma beach in Malibu, California. This included llamas (pictured)

Rescued animals were held on Zuma beach in Malibu as the thickness of the smoke created a hazy sky for creatures including llamas, donkeys, horses, a pig, bunnies and even a giraffe

Rescued animals were held on Zuma beach in Malibu as the thickness of the smoke created a hazy sky for creatures including llamas, donkeys, horses, a pig, bunnies and even a giraffe

Mic McCrary, 27, sits on a motorized go-cart that he used to rescue his two dogs after the Camp Fire devastated the entire town of Paradise

Mic McCrary, 27, sits on a motorized go-cart that he used to rescue his two dogs after the Camp Fire devastated the entire town of Paradise

Llamas were tied to a lifeguard stand on the beach in Malibu as the Woolsey Fire comes down the hill Friday

Llamas were tied to a lifeguard stand on the beach in Malibu as the Woolsey Fire comes down the hill Friday