Fire decimates Paradise, California
ABANDONED, charred vehicles cluttered the empty thoroughfare of Paradise, California, evidence of the panicked evacuation a day earlier.
Most of its buildings are in ruin. Entire neighbourhoods are levelled. The business district is destroyed.
In a single day, this Sierra Nevada foothill town of 27000 founded in the 1800s, was largely incinerated by flames that moved so fast there was nothing firefighters could do.
Only a day after it began on Thursday, the blaze that started outside the hilly town of Paradise had grown on Friday to nearly 360km² and destroyed more than 6700 structures, almost all of them homes, making it California’s most destructive wildfire since recordkeeping began.
Nine people have been found dead, some inside their cars and others outside vehicles or homes after a desperate evacuation that Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea called “the worst-case scenario”. Their identities were not yet known.
“It is what we feared for a long time,” Honea said, noting there was no time to knock on residents’ doors one-by-one.
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration providing federal funds for Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. He later threatened to withhold federal payments to California, claiming its forest management was “so poor”.
Trump said via Twitter yesterday that “there is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly fires in California”.
He said “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!”
The fire in Paradise, about 290km north-east of San Francisco, was still burning out of control. |