Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE -

PAR­ADISE, CAL­I­FOR­NIA— Wild­fires burned out of con­trol on Fri­day across Cal­i­for­nia, killing at least nine peo­ple in a moun­tain town and forc­ing res­i­dents to flee the up­scale beach com­mu­nity of Mal­ibu in the face of a mon­ster fire storm.

All nine vic­tims were found 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 one of the most de­struc­tive in state his­tory, ac­cord­ing to Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion (Cal Fire) data.

“This event was the worstcase 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.”

The re­mains of five of the vic­tims were dis­cov­ered in or near burned-out cars, three out­side res­i­dences and one in­side a home, Honea said.

An­other 35 peo­ple had been re­ported miss­ing and three fire­fight­ers had been in­jured.

Flames spread quickly

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.

A school bus was among sev- eral aban­doned ve­hi­cles left black­ened by flames on one road.

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.

A to­tal of 6,453 homes had been de­stroyed in Par­adise and else­where, Honea said, along with 260 com­mer­cial build­ings. The Tubbs Fire, which de­stroyed 5,636 struc­tures in Napa and Sonoma coun­ties in Oc­to­ber 2017, is listed by Cal Fire as the most de­struc­tive in state his­tory.

Fire burns to­ward Mal­ibu

In Mal­ibu, some 800 kilo­me­ters to the south, flames driven by hot Santa Ana winds gust­ing up to 80 kilo­me­ters per hour raced down hill­sides and through canyons to­ward mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar homes.

Thou­sands of res­i­dents packed the Pa­cific Coast High­way to head south or took refuge on beaches, along with their horses and other pets.

Among those forced to flee the Woolsey Fire, which had charred some 14,164 hectares as of Fri­day af­ter­noon, were celebri­ties, in­clud­ing Lady Gaga and Kim Kar­dashian, who said on Twit­ter 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.

Mal­ibu and Cal­abasas, west of Los An­ge­les, are home to hun­dreds of celebri­ties and en­ter­tain­ment ex­ec­u­tives at­tracted by ocean views, rolling hills and large, se­cluded es­tates.

Au­thor­i­ties is­sued manda­tory and vol­un­tary evac­u­a­tion or­ders within the City of Los An­ge­les for the West Hills area on Fri­day evening. It is un­clear how many homes were within the evac­u­a­tion ar­eas.

Road shut­down

The blaze, which spewed mas­sive plumes of thick black smoke, also threat­ened parts of the nearby town of Thou­sand Oaks, where a gun­man killed 12 peo­ple ear­lier this week in a shooting ram­page at a col­lege bar, stun­ning the bu­colic South­ern Cal­i­for­nia com­mu­nity with a rep­u­ta­tion for safety.

The Woolsey Fire broke out on Thurs­day and quickly jumped the 101 Free­way in sev­eral places. On Fri­day, it climbed over the Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains to­ward Mal­ibu.

Au­thor­i­ties were forced to shut down the 101, a ma­jor north-south artery, as well as the Pa­cific Coast High­way. Los An­ge­les County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said a “sig­nif­i­cant num­ber” of homes had been de­stroyed by the flames but that an ac­cu­rate count could not yet be made.

Else­where, the Hill Fire in Ven­tura County’s Santa Rosa Val­ley had charred about 2,428 hectares 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 fsa­cil­ity, zoo of­fi­cials said in a state­ment.


IN­FERNO AT STARS’ EN­CLAVE A fire­fighter could only watch as flames en­gulf homes in Mal­ibu, Cal­i­for­nia, on Fri­day, forc­ing many celebri­ties to join the thou­sands flee­ing the area. A he­li­copter (above) also fights a los­ing bat­tle as the fast-mov­ing South­ern Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires are driven by hot winds and warmer weather at­trib­uted to cli­mate change.

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