Cal­i­for­nia fires kill 31, dead­li­est in US his­tory

Iran Daily - - Front Page -

The death toll from rag­ing the US state of Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires rose to 31 as body re­cov­ery teams used ca­daver dogs to lo­cate vic­tims, mak­ing it the dead­li­est se­ries of blazes in the state’s his­tory.

The fires be­gan on Sun­day, leav­ing thou­sands of peo­ple home­less and burn­ing over 190,000 acres (76,000 hectares) of land, AFP re­ported on Fri­day.

Gusty winds ham­pered the ef­forts of the 8,000 fire­fight­ers bat­tling 20 blazes, and weather con­di­tions were not fore­cast to im­prove.

“What this means is that our fires will con­tinue to burn er­rat­i­cally,” Cal­i­for­nia fire chief Ken Pim­lott told a news con­fer­ence. “They have the po­ten­tial to shift in any di­rec­tion at any time. “We are a long way from be­ing done with this catas­tro­phe,” he said. The Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion (Cal Fire) an­nounced that the fires have claimed 31 lives, while Sher­iff Rob Gior­dano of hard-hit Sonoma County said his de­part­ment has re­ceived around 1,100 re­ports of miss­ing per­sons.

Of those, “745 of them, roughly, have been lo­cated safe,” while “we still have 400 out­stand­ing,” Gior­dano said, not­ing that the ac­tual fig­ure may be smaller be­cause there are some­times du­pli­cate re­ports.

He said tar­geted body re­cov­ery ef­forts had be­gun in cases where all other leads were ex­hausted.

Asked if he ex­pected the death toll to rise, Gior­dano replied: “I’d be un­re­al­is­tic if I didn’t.”

As re­cov­ery teams fanned out search­ing for fire vic­tims, evac­u­a­tion or­ders were is­sued for towns in Napa and Sonoma coun­ties, where hun­dreds of peo­ple have al­ready lost their homes to the fast-mov­ing in­fer­nos.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said wind gusts of up to 50 miles (80 kilo­me­ters) per hour were fore­cast in some ar­eas and the “crit­i­cal fire weather con­di­tions” would con­tinue into the week­end. Pim­lott said hun­dreds of fire en­gines and dozens of fire­fight­ing crews were be­ing brought in from other states. David Shew, a vet­eran fire­fighter with Cal Fire, said the wild­fires were like noth­ing he’s seen be­fore.

“I’ve been with Cal Fire for 30 years and I’ve seen big fires,” said. “But this is ex­tra­or­di­nary, hav­ing that many and that large and go­ing so fast.”

Thou­sands of peo­ple have been left home­less and 25,000 peo­ple have evac­u­ated their homes in Sonoma County alone, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials.

More than 3,500 homes and busi­nesses have been de­stroyed in Sonoma and Napa coun­ties. Cal­i­for­nia Gover­nor Jerry Brown has de­clared a state of emer­gency in eight coun­ties.


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