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.
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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
Butte County Sheriff Cory Honea announced that 228 people remain unaccounted for since the fire began Thursday and incinerated the foothill town
The map above shows the three major fires currently alight burning in California, two in the south and one in the north
‘This weighs heavy on all of us,’ Honea added. ‘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.
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
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
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.
Osby noted that a November 1993 wildfire in Malibu destroyed more than 270 homes and said he would not be surprised if the total from the current fire would be higher.
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
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
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.
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 (pictured) and helicopters swooped low over hills and canyons to drop loads of fire retardant and water
A helicopter drops flame retardant on a wildfire in Malibu, California
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
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
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 and at least 25 people have been killed, with that number expected to dramatically rise.
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.
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.
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
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.