Grim search for more fire victims; 31 dead across California

More than 8,000 firefighters battled wildfires that scorched at least 1,040 square kilometres

  • Nov. 12, 2018 10:30 a.m.

Jimmy Clements, who stayed at his home as the Camp Fire raged through Paradise, Calif., leans against his fence, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. Clements, whose home stands among destroyed residences, said he built an FM radio out of a potato and wire to keep up with news about the fire. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The death toll from the wildfire that incinerated Paradise and surrounding areas climbed to 29 — matching the mark for the deadliest single blaze in California history.

Crews continued searching for bodies in the smouldering ruins, with nearly 230 people unaccounted for.

Statewide the number of dead stood at 31, including two victims in Southern California, from wildfires raging at both ends of the state.

Ten search teams were working in Paradise — a town of 27,000 that was engulfed by flames Thursday — and in surrounding communities in Northern California’s Sierra Nevada foothills. Authorities called in a DNA lab and anthropologists to help identify what in some cases were only bones or bone fragments.

All told, more than 8,000 firefighters battled wildfires that scorched at least 1,040 square kilometres of the state, with the flames feeding on dry brush and driven by winds that had a blowtorch effect.

“This is truly a tragedy that all Californians can understand and respond to,” Gov. Jerry Brown said Sunday. “It’s a time to pull together and work through these tragedies.”

VIDEO: Northern California wildfire nearly quadruples in size

California is requesting emergency aid from the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has blamed what he called poor forest management for the fires.

The governor said the federal and state governments must do more forest management but that climate change is the greater source of the problem.

“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 said.

Drought and warmer weather attributed to climate change, and the building of homes deeper into forests have led to longer and more destructive wildfire seasons in California. While California officially emerged from a five-year drought last year, much of the northern two-thirds of the state is abnormally dry.

Celebrities whose coastal homes were damaged or destroyed or who were forced to flee expressed sympathy for the less famous and offered their gratitude to firefighters.

The magnitude of the devastation was beginning to set in even as the blaze raged on. Public safety officials toured the Paradise area to begin discussing the recovery. Much of what makes the city function was gone.

“Paradise was literally wiped off the map,” said Tim Aboudara, a fireighters union representative. He said at least 36 firefighters lost their own homes, most in the Paradise area.

Others continued the desperate search for friends or relatives, calling evacuation centres, hospitals, police and the coroner’s office.

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

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

A vehicle drives through smoke from a wildfire near Pulga, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Just Posted

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

Rutland rallies behind Chiefs impressive season

The Kelowna Chiefs will finish atop the KIJHL, and conclude season this weekend in Rutland

City of Kelowna raises concerns over safety, policing with COG organizers

The mayor said it was a mutual decision between organizers and the city to postpone the festival

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Kelowna Rockets make stop at B.C. Parliament building

The hockey team snapped a picture while in Victoria Tuesday

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Crash closes highway between Vernon and Lumby

Traffic being routed around the scene

Vehicle located in 2018 Shuswap abduction attempt

Chase RCMP say car used has since been sold, suspect still at large

Hergott: Uncertainty of personal injury claims

Lawyer Paul Hergott tackles personal injury claims in his latest column

Cougar ‘living’ next door to Okanagan elementary school

Conservation Office has been alerted and monitoring large cat

Dog dies in Kamloops RV fire

According to a fundraiser posted on social media, the cause of the fire was electrical

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

Most Read