Body count mounts in wildfire-hit California

Aaron Brown
November 13, 2018

As of Monday morning, more than 200 people were still missing after the Camp Fire raged across a swath of northern California.

In Northern California, where more than 6,700 buildings have been destroyed in the blaze that obliterated Paradise, firefighters contended with wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour (64 kph) overnight, the fire jumping 300 feet across Lake Oroville.

Several of the bodies discovered earlier this week were found in or near burned out cars, police have said.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said that 228 people are still unaccounted for; many of them are probably in shelters, and authorities are working to resolve those cases, he said.

Speaking on CNN, Honea said while he holds out hope that many people listed as missing will turn up safe, "given what we've dealt with so far with casualties as a result of this fire, I have concerns that it (the death toll) will rise". The dead were so badly burned that authorities brought in a mobile DNA lab and consulted forensic anthropologists for help in identifying them.

The count of lost structures in both southern California fires climbed to almost 180, authorities said, and that number seemed certain to rise.

Camille Grammer Meyer of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" also lost her Malibu home on Saturday night, her publicist, Howard Bragman, said in an email to The Associated Press.

Hollywood cut back on the glamor trappings of movie premieres as a vast wildfire destroyed or imperiled the homes of celebrities and other Southern California residents. "It was probably the most very bad experience I will have in my life", she told the Newsday programme. 'My animals and LOVE OF MY LIFE made it out safely & that's all that matters right now.

"My house no longer stands but the memories shared with family & friends stand strong", she wrote.

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The so-called Woolsey Fire grew overnight and the entire city of Malibu, which has 13,000 residents, has been told to evacuate. Singer-actress Lady Gaga posted on Instagram on Friday afternoon that her Malibu estate was evacuated earlier in the day.

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Canadian rock legend Neil Young has criticised US President Donald Trump for his "gross mismanagement" comment regarding the California wildfire.

In Southern California, where the Woolsey Fire scorched 83,275 acres, the blaze was only 10 percent contained.

Two people have been found dead as a pair of wildfires stretched from inland canyons to the Pacific in southern California, leaving people sifting through the remains of their homes for anything they had left.

"We drove out of the clouds into the sunshine and could see flames on the ridge, consuming everything it was touching", Joanna Garcia, who fled the fire with her family on Thursday, told NBC.

Cyrus tweeted that her Malibu home - a US$2.5 million mansion she purchased with fiance Liam Hemsworth in 2016 - had been destroyed by fire.

Trump tweeted that the reason the fires are so deadly is that "forest management is so poor". While California officially emerged from a five-year drought last year, much of the northern two-thirds of the state is abnormally dry.

Many others including Orlando Bloom, Alyssa Milano, Lady Gaga, "The Office" actor Rainn Wilson and fashion designer Donna Karan were among evacuees.

State officials have blamed climate change and said numerous burn areas have been in federally managed lands.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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