California fire: Search continues as death toll rises to 23

Monday, 12 Nov, 2018

All told, more than 8,000 firefighters battled three large wildfires burning across almost 1,040 square kilometres in northern and Southern California, with out-of-state crews continuing to arrive and gusty, blowtorch winds making their return.

The worst of the blazes was in Northern California, where flames reduced the town of Paradise, population 27,000, to a smoking ruin days ago and continued to rage in surrounding communities.

Sheriff's officials would only say that two fatalities were reported in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway, the same address provided to the Acorn by the source the day before.

"We are failing ourselves", he said.

The Woolsley Fire was one of three burning wildfires in the state along with the Camp Fire in northern California, which burned the entire town of Paradise.

Another 35 people were reported missing, McLean said. Crews had cut containment lines around about 20 percent of the blaze.

The Woolsey Fire has since been 10% contained, but firefighters are wary of an anticipated increase in winds later today.

Many bodies recovered from the Camp Fire were found inside or near homes or in vehicles, officials said.

The Woolsey Fire in Southern California has hit Malibu - which is popular with celebrities - as well as the city of Thousand Oaks, which was the site of a deadly shooting at a country music bar last week.

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Two bodies were discovered in the community on Saturday but it was too early to determine if they died from the Woolsey fire or another cause, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said.

With strong "devil winds" expected to continue throughout Monday, firefighters have been unable to contain the ferocious "Camp Fire" in Butte County, in the north of the state where 52,000 have fled their homes.

"Don't be lulled by a false sense of security", Ventura County Fire Department Chief Mark Lawrenson said at a press conference Saturday evening.

A number of celebrities also responded to Trump's tweet Saturday.

Firefighters pleaded with people to heed mandatory evacuation orders.

Gov. Jerry Brown said he is requesting a major-disaster declaration from President Donald Trump that would make victims eligible for crisis counseling, housing and unemployment help, and legal aid. Along with updates on progress in fighting the fire, he said this blaze signified a shift: fire crews are now facing the most erratic and challenging fight of their lives.

But an expected narrow window of calm is giving firefighters hope of slowing the flames that have marched a path of destruction toward the sea, burning everything from mobile homes to mansions.

In Paradise, a town founded in the 1800s, residents who stayed behind to try to save their properties or who managed to return despite an evacuation order found incinerated cars and homes.

Wearing masks because the air was still heavy with smoke, people sidestepped metal that had melted off of cars or Jet-Skis as they surveyed their ravaged neighborhoods. Some cried when they saw nothing was left. Director Scott Derrickson showed the devastation done to his home in a tweet as well. The safe was punctured with bullet holes from guns inside that went off in the scorching heat. He said "billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests". "Typically we would rely on our partners to the north to come".