Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires kill at least 5 peo­ple

The Kansas City Star - - News - BY THOMAS FULLER, MATTHEW HAAG AND JEN­NIFER MEDINA New York Times

As wild­fires swept over a large swath of Cal­i­for­nia on Fri­day, au­thor­i­ties said at least five peo­ple had been killed in a blaze that dec­i­mated a re­tire­ment com­mu­nity in the foothills of the Sierra Ne­vada.

The state is bat­tling three ma­jor fires, one in the north­ern Sierra and two west of Los An­ge­les. In the north­ern town of Par­adise, the ru­ins of homes and busi­nesses smol­dered Fri­day, while in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, tens of thou­sands of res­i­dents west of Los An­ge­les fled their homes and jammed onto high­ways.

The bod­ies of five peo­ple were found in Par­adise “in ve­hi­cles that were over­come” by the flames, Sher­iff Kory L. Honea of Butte County said, and the bod­ies had been so badly burned they could not im­me­di­ately be iden­ti­fied.

Fire­fight­ers in Chico, west of Par­adise, were on the out­skirts of the city, try­ing to push the fire away from homes and sub­di­vi­sions. The blaze, called the Camp Fire, has burned more than 70,000 acres and is only 5 per­cent con­trolled, au­thor­i­ties said.

In South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, au­thor­i­ties or­dered the com­plete evac­u­a­tion of Mal­ibu, the af­flu­ent com­mu­nity that is home to many Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties, as the fire raced through the hills and canyons above the Pa­cific Ocean. No part of the fire was un­der con­trol, ac­cord­ing to the Ven­tura County Fire Depart­ment.

A sep­a­rate fire in Grif­fith Park, near Bur­bank and Glen­dale, and not far from down­town Los An­ge­les, forced the tem­po­rar­ily evac­u­a­tion of some an­i­mals from the Los An­ge­les Zoo on the edge of the park.

More than 1.4 mil­lion acres have burned so far this year in the state, said Scott McLean, deputy chief of the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion. That’s roughly equal to the to­tals from the very de­struc­tive year of 2017.

And the strong winds known as Santa Ana con­tributed to the big­ger fires, but the link with cli­mate change is in­ex­tri­ca­ble, said Park Wil­liams, a bio­cli­ma­tol­o­gist at Columbia Univer­sity’s La­mon­tDo­herty Earth Ob­ser­va­tory.

“It’s once again, in Cal­i­for­nia the per­fect recipe for fire,” Wil­liams said. “You get a big Santa Ana wind event in the fall be­fore the first win­ter rain comes. You’ve got a lot of peo­ple who are al­ways cre­at­ing po­ten­tial fires by light­ing fires ei­ther on pur­pose or on ac­ci­dent.

“And then be­hind the scenes of all of this, you’ve got tem­per­a­tures that are about 2 to 3 de­grees Fahren­heit warmer now than they would’ve been with­out global warm­ing.”

Cal­i­for­nia’s gov­er­nor­elect, Gavin New­som, de­clared a state of emer­gency Fri­day in Los An­ge­les and Ven­tura coun­ties.

AL SEIB TNS

Fire smol­ders in a de­stroyed home in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif., Fri­day morn­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.