11 dead as fires rage on

More than 200,000 Cal­i­for­ni­ans forced to flee

Toronto Sun - - NEWS -

MAL­I­BOU LAKE, Calif. — A grow­ing trio of wild­fires in­cin­er­ated large swaths of North­ern and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia over the past three days, killing 11 peo­ple, dis­plac­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands and turn­ing a re­tire­ment com­mu­nity called Par­adise into acres of ash and charred foun­da­tions. The mas­sive Camp Fire north of Sacra­mento had de­stroyed some 6,700 struc­tures, be­com­ing the most de­struc­tive in­ferno in a state with a long and calami­tous his­tory of fires.

Since Thurs­day, more than 200,000 Cal­i­for­ni­ans have been dis­placed — greater than the pop­u­la­tion of the city of Or­lando, Fla.

In ad­di­tion to the dead, dozens have been re­ported miss­ing. Au­thor­i­ties warned that the prop­erty losses would also be stag­ger­ing. A pair of fires near Los An­ge­les threat­ened Mal­ibu man­sions and de­stroyed Para­mount Ranch, the film­ing lo­ca­tion of the HBO se­ries West­world.

Be­fore of­fi­cials an­nounced the lat­est grim statis­tics and ris­ing death toll on Satur­day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fanned an on­go­ing dis­pute with Cal­i­for­nia lead­ers, blam­ing mis­man­age­ment of state re­sources for the de­struc­tion and death.

“There is no rea­son for these mas­sive, deadly and costly for­est fires in Cal­i­for­nia ex­cept that for­est man­age­ment is so poor,” Trump tweeted Satur­day morn­ing. “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!”

Trump blames state

Cal­i­for­nia of­fi­cials have coun­tered Trump’s claims in the past, say­ing that ever-in­tense fires are the re­sult of global warm­ing, which dries up veg­e­ta­tion and turns fire­prone ar­eas of the state into a tin­der­box.

In North­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s Butte County, about 90 miles north of state cap­i­tal Sacra­mento, res­i­dents de­scribed flee­ing a cat­a­strophic fire that be­gan on Thurs­day. The in­ferno grew with in­cred­i­ble speed, claimed nine lives and turned a sunny day into an end-of-days scene of flames, smoke, sparks and wide de­struc­tion.

Of­fi­cials warned that “red flag” con­di­tions would per­sist on and off through Mon­day, hot, dry and windy weather that makes the land ripe for a fire’s spread.

Butte County Sher­iff Kory Honea told re­porters at a news con­fer­ence Fri­day evening that of­fi­cials had found nine peo­ple who had been killed by the fire: Four were found dead in their cars in Par­adise, down from the five of­fi­cials had spo­ken about ear­lier; three out­side of houses; and two oth­ers, one in­side a home, and an­other near a car.

“This event was the worstcase sce­nario,” Honea said. “It’s the event that we have feared for a long time.”

On Satur­day, Los An­ge­les County Sher­iff’s Chief John Bene­dict told The As­so­ci­ated Press that two peo­ple have been found dead in the fire zone of a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia blaze.

JOSH EDELSON/GETTY IM­AGES

Yuba County Sher­iff of­fi­cers re­move a body at the Holly Hills Mo­bile Es­tates in Par­adise, Calif., yes­ter­day. Nine peo­ple were killed in the Par­adise blaze.

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