Nine die in Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires, hun­dreds of thou­sands forced to flee

Times of Oman - - WORLD -


(United States): Nine peo­ple were killed and hun­dreds of thou­sands or­dered to evac­u­ate as wild­fires raged on Satur­day across Cal­i­for­nia, with one rapidly spread­ing blaze threat­en­ing the re­sort of Mal­ibu, home to Hol­ly­wood stars.

The fa­tal­i­ties were re­ported in a mas­sive late-sea­son in­ferno in the town of Par­adise, in Butte County north of the state cap­i­tal Sacra­mento, where some 6,700 struc­tures went up in flames - of­fi­cially be­com­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s most de­struc­tive fire on record.

The fast-mov­ing blaze, which au­thor­i­ties have named the “Camp Fire”, broke out on Thurs­day morn­ing. Fanned by strong winds, it has scorched 90,000 acres (36,400 hectares) and is only five per cent con­tained, the Cal­i­for­nia Fire De­part­ment (Cal Fire) said late on Fri­day.

Other large fires raged in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, in­clud­ing one just north of Los An­ge­les and an­other in Ven­tura County near Thou­sand Oaks, where a Ma­rine Corps vet­eran shot dead 12 peo­ple in a coun­try mu­sic bar on Wed­nes­day night.

“The mag­ni­tude of de­struc­tion we have seen is re­ally un­be­liev­able and heart­break­ing and our hearts go to every­body who has been af­fected by this,” said Mark Ghi­lar­ducci, the di­rec­tor of the Cal­i­for­nia Gover­nor’s Of­fice of Emer­gency Ser­vices.

State of emer­gency

Gover­nor-elect Gavin New­som de­clared a state of emer­gency to pro­vide as­sis­tance to the fire-hit ar­eas. Butte County Sher­iff Korey Honea said late on Fri­day it was his “sad duty” to up­date the Camp Fire death toll to nine.

“I don’t have all of the de­tails be­cause we have in­ves­ti­ga­tors out on the field” try­ing to reach the lo­ca­tions where ca­su­al­ties were re­ported, Honea told re­porters.

But he did say that four peo­ple were found in­side a ve­hi­cle in the Par­adise area, while an­other was found nearby. Three more were found out­side a res­i­dence, and one in­side a house. Of­fi­cials ear­lier said that five peo­ple had died in ve­hi­cles over­come by the fire.

Dozens of other peo­ple were re­ported miss­ing.

Res­i­dents who es­caped Par­adise posted har­row­ing videos to so­cial me­dia as they drove through tun­nels of swirling smoke and or­ange flames to out­run the wild­fire.

The flames de­stroyed hun­dreds of homes, a hos­pi­tal, a gas sta­tion, sev­eral restau­rants and nu­mer­ous ve­hi­cles, of­fi­cials said. Manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­ders were is­sued for more than 52,000 peo­ple in the scenic area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada moun­tains.

“The whole lower side of Par­adise is to­tally en­gulfed in flames right now,” Kevin Win­stead, a res­i­dent of nearby Ma­galia, told KIEM TV. “All of it is en­gulfed in flames right now. Not one home will be left stand­ing,” he said. “I’m dev­as­tated.” “We’re just hop­ing that our brand new home that we were hop­ing to move into to­mor­row is not burned to the ground,” Win­stead said. Cal­i­for­nia has en­dured ab­nor­mally dry weather for years. Much of the south, in­clud­ing the Los An­ge­les area, is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing drought con­di­tions ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial data.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump showed no sym­pa­thy for the fa­mously lib­eral state.

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

“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!” In south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, au­thor­i­ties said some 200,000 peo­ple are un­der evac­u­a­tion or­ders.

The Ven­tura County Fire De­part­ment said the “Woolsey Fire” had burned around 35,000 acres, was not con­tained, and that evac­u­a­tion or­ders were is­sued for some 88,000 homes in the county and neigh­bor­ing Los An­ge­les County.

Out of con­trol wind-driven flames trig­gered manda­tory evac­u­a­tions, in­clud­ing for the en­tire city of Mal­ibu.

The wild­fire de­stroyed Para­mount Ranch, a movie set for cow­boy shows in­clud­ing HBO’S West­world, of­fi­cials said. Cal Fire posted footage taken from he­li­copters that showed flames rac­ing over hill ridges to­wards multi-mil­lion dol­lar man­sions.

“We heard this was com­ing so we set up on the sprin­klers and we hosed the whole house down,” said Pa­trick Henry, a Mal­ibu res­i­dent. “We pretty much had enough time to get the dogs in the trunk.”

Mal­ibu is one of the most in­de­mand lo­ca­tions in Cal­i­for­nia for Hol­ly­wood stars seek­ing pri­vacy and lux­ury, and has been home to Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Ni­chol­son, Jen­nifer Anis­ton, Halle Berry, Char­l­ize Theron, Brad Pitt and a host of other celebri­ties.

Re­al­ity TV star Kim Kar­dashian West, who lives just north of coastal Mal­ibu in Cal­abasas, re­vealed on In­sta­gram that she was forced to flee her home.

“Just landed back home and had 1 hour to pack up & evac­u­ate our home. I pray ev­ery­one is safe,” she said. TV star Char­lie Sheen tweeted that his fa­ther, Mar­tin Sheen, and his mother Janet were both miss­ing - but the pair sur­faced un­harmed hours later at a beach­side evac­u­a­tion spot.

“We’re fine, we’re at Zuma Beach and we’re prob­a­bly go­ing to sleep in the car tonight,” Mar­tin Sheen told Fox News 11, ad­dress­ing his adult chil­dren. Sheen said this was the worst fire he had seen in 48 years of liv­ing in Mal­ibu. Di­rec­tor Guillermo del Toro tweeted that Bleak House, his mu­seum of hor­ror movie mem­o­ra­bilia, was also in the path of the flames.


BLAZE: A Cal Fire fire­fighter sprays wa­ter on a home next to a burn­ing home as the Camp Fire moves through the area on Novem­ber 9, 2018 in Ma­galia, Cal­i­for­nia.

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