Calif wild­fires rage, Trump blames ‘for­est mis­man­age­ment’

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PAR­ADISE, Cal­i­for­nia: Two mon­ster wild­fires burned out of con­trol yes­ter­day in north­ern and south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, hav­ing al­ready killed at least nine peo­ple and forced hun­dreds of thou­sands to flee their homes. Nine peo­ple were found dead in and around the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia town of Par­adise, where more than 6,700 homes and busi­nesses were burned down by the Camp Fire, mak­ing it the most de­struc­tive blaze in Cal­i­for­nia his­tory, ac­cord­ing to state’s de­part­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion.

“This event was the worst-case sce­nario. It was the event we have feared for a long time,” Butte County Sher­iff Kory Honea said at a Fri­day evening press con­fer­ence. “Re­gret­tably, not every­body made it out.” About 800 km to the south in Los An­ge­les County, the 35,000-acre Woolsey Fire was threat­en­ing 75,000 homes and more than 200,000 peo­ple were un­der manda­tory evac­u­a­tion early yes­ter­day. Some of the evac­u­a­tion or­ders were for res­i­dents within the City of Los An­ge­les in the West Hills area. It was un­clear how many homes have been evac­u­ated within the City of Los An­ge­les.

Trump early yes­ter­day tweeted that “gross mis­man­age­ment of forests” was to blame for the two unchecked wild­fires. “There is no rea­son for these mas­sive, deadly and costly for­est fires in Cal­i­for­nia ex­cept that for­est man­age­ment is so poor,” he wrote in a Twit­ter post. “Bil­lions of dol­lars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all be­cause of gross mis­man­age­ment of the forests.

Rem­edy now, or no more Fed pay­ments!” he added. The re­mains of five of the vic­tims in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia were dis­cov­ered in or near burned out cars, three out­side res­i­dences and one in­side a home, Butte County’s Honea said. An­other 35 peo­ple had been re­ported miss­ing and three fire­fight­ers had been in­jured. The flames de­scended on Par­adise so quickly that many peo­ple were forced to aban­don their cars and run for their lives down the sole road through the moun­tain town. The Camp Fire, which broke out on Thurs­day at the edge of the Plumas Na­tional For­est north­east of Sacra­mento, has since black­ened more than 90,000 acres and was only 5 per­cent con­tained as of night­fall on Fri­day.

The Woolsey Fire broke out on Thurs­day and quickly jumped the 101 Free­way, a ma­jor north-south artery, in sev­eral places. On Fri­day, it moved over the Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains to­ward Mal­ibu, where flames driven by hot Santa Ana winds gust­ing up to 80 kph raced down hill­sides and through canyons to­ward multi-mil­lion dol­lar homes. Early yes­ter­day, fire was near­ing Pep­per­dine Univer­sity, a pri­vate res­i­den­tial col­lege with 7,700 stu­dents, where stu­dents re­mained shel­tered on the school’s main cam­pus in Mal­ibu.

School of­fi­cials told stu­dents gath­ered in a com­mon area that they have been as­sured by fire of­fi­cials that the school’s build­ings were built to with­stand fire. “It’s very clear that both L A County Fire and Pep­per­dine are think­ing this our best course of ac­tion at this point,” said Con­nie Hor­ton, vice pres­i­dent for stu­dent af­fairs, on a video posted on Twit­ter that showed some stu­dents wear­ing pa­per masks over their mouths. She warned stu­dents to an­tic­i­pate “more smoke and maybe even ash and prob­a­bly some fright­en­ing vi­su­als, things like a tree on fire”.

Thou­sands of res­i­dents took to the Pa­cific Coast High­way to head south or took refuge on beaches, along with their horses and other pets. Among those forced to flee were celebri­ties in­clud­ing Lady Gaga and Kim Kar­dashian, who said on Twit­ter that flames had dam­aged the home she shares in nearby Cal­abasas with Kanye West. “Fire is now burn­ing out of con­trol and head­ing into pop­u­lated ar­eas of Mal­ibu,” the city said in a state­ment on­line. “All res­i­dents must evac­u­ate im­me­di­ately.”

Some 95,000 res­i­dents have been evac­u­ated in Ven­tura County alone, the county’s fire de­part­ment said on Twit­ter on Fri­day night. The blaze also threat­ened parts of the nearby town of Thou­sand Oaks, where a gun­man killed 12 peo­ple ear­lier this week in a shoot­ing ram­page. Else­where, the Hill Fire in Ven­tura County’s Santa Rosa Val­ley had charred about 6,000 acres as of Fri­day evening, ac­cord­ing to Cal Fire. In Los An­ge­les, an­other, smaller fire in Grif­fith Park forced the Los An­ge­les Zoo to evac­u­ate a num­ber of show birds and some small pri­mates on Fri­day as flames came within less than 3 km of the fa­cil­ity, zoo of­fi­cials said in a state­ment. — Reuters


PAR­ADISE, Cal­i­for­nia: Fire­fight­ers push down a wall while bat­tling a burn­ing apart­ment com­plex north of Sacra­mento on Fri­day.

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