Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires rage, nine dead

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - SUNDAY WORLD -

PAR­ADISE, United States: Nine peo­ple were killed and hun­dreds of thou­sands or­dered to evac­u­ate as wild­fires raged yes­ter­day across Cal­i­for­nia, with one rapidly spread­ing blaze threat­en­ing the re­sort of Mal­ibu, home to Hol­ly­wood stars.

The fa­tal­i­ties were re­ported in a mas­sive late-sea­son in­ferno in the town of Par­adise, in Butte County north of the state cap­i­tal Sacra­mento, where some 6,700 struc­tures went up in flames – of­fi­cially be­com­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s most de­struc­tive fire on record.

The fast-mov­ing blaze, which au­thor­i­ties have named the ‘Camp Fire’, broke out Thurs­day morn­ing. Fanned by strong winds, it has scorched 36,400 hectares and is only five per cent con­tained, the Cal­i­for­nia Fire De­part­ment (Cal Fire) said late Fri­day.

Other large fires raged in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, in­clud­ing one just north of Los An­ge­les and an­other in Ven­tura County near Thou­sand Oaks, where a Ma­rine Corps vet­eran shot dead 12 peo­ple in a coun­try mu­sic bar on Wed­nes­day night.

“The mag­ni­tude of de­struc­tion we have seen is re­ally un­be­liev­able and heart­break­ing and our hearts go to every­body who has been af­fected by this,” said Mark Ghi­lar­ducci, the di­rec­tor of the Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice of Emer­gency Ser­vices.

Gov­er­nor-elect Gavin New­som de­clared a state of emer­gency to pro­vide as­sis­tance to the fire-hit ar­eas.

Late Fri­day Butte County Sher­iff Korey Honea said it was his ‘sad duty’ to up­date the Camp Fire

The mag­ni­tude of de­struc­tion we have seen is re­ally un­be­liev­able and heart­break­ing and our hearts go to every­body who has been af­fected by this. — Mark Ghi­lar­ducci, di­rec­tor of Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice of Emer­gency Ser­vices

death toll to nine.

“I don’t have all of the de­tails be­cause we have in­ves­ti­ga­tors out on the field” try­ing to reach the lo­ca­tions where ca­su­al­ties were re­ported, Honea told a press con­fer­ence.

But he did say that four peo­ple were found in­side a ve­hi­cle in the Par­adise area, while an­other was found nearby out­side the ve­hi­cle. Three more were found out­side a res­i­dence, and one in­side a house.

Dozens of other peo­ple were re­ported miss­ing.

Res­i­dents who es­caped Par­adise posted har­row­ing videos to so­cial me­dia as they drove through tun­nels of swirling smoke and orange flames to out­run the wild­fire.

The flames de­stroyed hun­dreds of homes, a hos­pi­tal, a gas sta­tion, sev­eral restau­rants and nu­mer­ous ve­hi­cles, of­fi­cials said.

Manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­ders were is­sued for more than 52,000 peo­ple in the scenic area in the foothills of the Sierra Ne­vada moun­tains.

“The whole lower side of Par­adise is to­tally en­gulfed in flames right now,” Kevin Win­stead, a res­i­dent of nearby Ma­galia, told KIEM TV. “All of it is en­gulfed in flames right now.

“Not one home will be left stand­ing,” he said. “I’m dev­as­tated.”

“We’re just hop­ing that our brand new home that we were hop­ing to move into to­mor­row is not burned to the ground,” Win­stead said.

In south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, au­thor­i­ties said some 200,000 peo­ple are un­der evac­u­a­tion or­ders.

The ‘Woolsey Fire’ has jumped High­way 101 near the town of Agoura Hills and por­tions of the main coastal north-south artery have been shut down, trig­ger­ing manda­tory evac­u­a­tions, in­clud­ing the en­tire city of Mal­ibu. — AFP

A Cal Fire fighter sprays wa­ter on a home next to a burn­ing home as the Camp Fire moves through the area in Ma­galia, Cal­i­for­nia. — AFP photo

An Aus­tralian po­lice of­fi­cer stands out­side a prop­erty that was searched by Aus­tralian counter-ter­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tors, lo­cated in the Mel­bourne sub­urb of Wer­ribee, Aus­tralia. — Reuters photo

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