Death toll rises to 42, resulting in a massive blaze in northern California making it the deadliest wildfire in the history of the state. Thousands of firefighters spent a fifth day digging battle lines to contain the “Camp Fire” in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains north of Sacramento, while search teams were on a grim mission to recover the dead.
“As of today, an additional 13 human remains have been recovered, which brings the total number to 42,” Sheriff Kory Honea told a news conference. “The blaze is “the deadliest wildland fire in California history,” Honea said.
In addition to the historic loss of life, the Camp Fire blaze is also more destructive than any other on record, having razed 6,500 homes in the town of Paradise, effectively wiping it off the map. “More than 5,100 firefighters from as far as the states of Washington and Texas have been working to halt the advance of the inferno as “mass casualty” search teams backed by anthropologists and a DNA lab pick through the charred ruins to identify remains — sometimes reduced to no more than shards of bone. The blaze has consumed around 93,000 acres (37,600 hectares), destroyed an estimated 370 structures and was 30 percent contained, according to Cal Fire”.
Glenn Simmons, 64, told AFP “I was planning on maybe moving out of state, or into southern California… Everything is burned up. I have my clothes and I have a backpack, and that’s pretty much it.”
“The Camp Fire has reduced around 17 square miles (45 square kilometers) of Butte County’s forested hills mostly to charred wasteland — an area which hasn’t seen rainfall of more than half an inch (one centimeter) in more than 30 weeks”.
It is currently 25 per cent contained, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said.
“This is not the new normal, this is the new abnormal. And this new abnormal will continue, certainly in the next 10 to 15 to 20 years,” California Governor Jerry Brown said Sunday in a stark warning over the likely damaging effects of climate change.
“Unfortunately, the best science is telling us that the dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify.”
Singer Miley Cyrus’s home was one of the buildings destroyed in southern California.
“Completely devestated (sic) by the fires affecting my community. I am one of the lucky ones. My animals and LOVE OF MY LIFE made it out safely & that’s all that matters right now,” she tweeted. “My house no longer stands but the memories shared with family & friends stand strong.” Many of the affected area’s residents own horses, and Twitter has been flooded with messages from people seeking and offering help.
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17 November, 2019