California wild­fires disas­ter could ‘get worse’

Western Mail - - NEWS -

WILD­FIRES al­ready well on their way to be­com­ing the dead­li­est and most de­struc­tive in California his­tory could gain mo­men­tum this week and erase even the mod­est gains fire­fight­ers have made.

Steady winds with gusts up to 45mph with nearly non-ex­is­tent hu­mid­ity are ex­pected to de­scend on the ar­eas north of San Fran­cisco where at least 23 peo­ple have died and at least 3,500 homes and busi­nesses have been de­stroyed.

“It’s go­ing to con­tinue to get worse be­fore it gets bet­ter,” state fire Chief Ken Pim­lott said on Wed­nes­day.

En­tire cities had evac­u­ated in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the next wave, their streets empty, the only mo­tion com­ing from ashes fall­ing like snowflakes.

They in­cluded Cal­is­toga, the his­toric re­sort town of wine tast­ings and hot springs, whose 5,300 peo­ple are un­der evac­u­a­tion or­ders.

Tens of thou­sands more were also driven from their homes by the flames.

A few left cook­ies for fire­fight­ers and signs read­ing “Please save our home!”

The 22 fires spanned more than 265 square miles as they en­tered their fourth day, many of them com­pletely out of con­trol. Mod­ern, strate­gic at­tacks that have kept de­struc­tion and death tolls low in re­cent years just have not worked against their fe­roc­ity.

“We are lit­er­ally look­ing at ex­plo­sive veg­e­ta­tion,” Mr Pim­lott said. “Make no mis­take, this is a se­ri­ous, crit­i­cal, cat­a­strophic event.”

Fires were “burn­ing faster than fire­fight­ers can run, in some sit­u­a­tions”, emer­gency op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor Mark Ghi­lar­ducci added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.