California Wildfires: death toll rises to 48 (official statement)


The remains of six more fire victims were found on Tuesday (November 14) in a northern California town overrun by flames last week, raising the death toll to 48 in the most lethal and destructive wildfire in California’s history.

The latest fatality count was announced by Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea after forensic teams with cadaver dogs spent the day combing through a ghostly landscape strewn with ash and charred debris in what was left of the Sierra foothills hamlet of Paradise, about 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco.

Honea said 100 National Guard troops were being sent in at his request to assist the search for additional human remains left by the so-called Camp Fire.

The intensified effort to locate victims came on the sixth day of a blaze that has incinerated more than 8,800 homes and other buildings, including most of Paradise, a town once home to 27,000 people that was largely erased hours after the fire began on Thursday.

One Malibu resident who didn’t heed the evacuation order was 59-year-old Tony Haynes, who described how strong winds brought the fire through his neighborhood during the weekend, with the sky growing dark, saying there was so much smoke he put on his scuba-diving tank to breathe. “It was a fire storm, the worse I’ve ever seen it, I’ve fought a lot of fires at my house. I’ve been here since 1963 in Malibu but when the fire storm came over the hill here and it was about 60 miles an hour plus, it turned pitch black when the fire storm came over. After that, I just ran around and put out fires.”

Haynes said his home survived.

Many of those allowed to return were left without power or cellphone service, even if their homes were spared by the flames.

“We’re fine, we got very, very lucky. We have a lot of friends who their houses are gone, all Malibu park is gone. We’re very lucky, we only had one house in our family that didn’t make it and that’s my mom’s boyfriend’s,” said Devon DeMatteo.

Winds of up to 40 miles per hour (64 km per hour) were expected to continue in southern California through Tuesday, heightening the risk of fresh blazes ignited by scattered embers

Search teams have recovered remains of 42 people killed by a fierce wildfire that largely incinerated the town of Paradise in northern California, marking the greatest loss of life from a wild land blaze in state history. Grace Lee reports.
It’s now the deadliest blaze in California history.

Officials say at least 42 people have been killed in the so-called Camp Fire.

The latest death toll announced after authorities found the remains of another 13 victims.

That fire is already the most destructive on record in the state, leaving the small town of Paradise in ashes.

Since erupting on Thursday (November 8) its claimed more than 7000 homes and businesses in the area.

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