Fire de­stroys Par­adise, killing 9 res­i­dents

The Herald (Rock Hill) - - Weather - BY PAUL ELIAS AND GIL­LIAN FLAC­CUS

No one is left in Par­adise. Aban­doned, charred ve­hi­cles clut­ter the main thor­ough­fare, ev­i­dence of the pan­icked evac­u­a­tion a day ear­lier as a wild­fire tore through the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia com­mu­nity.

Nine peo­ple have been found dead. En­tire neigh­bor­hoods are lev­eled. The busi­ness dis­trict is de­stroyed. In one day, this Sierra Ne­vada foothill town of 27,000 founded in the 1800s was largely in­cin­er­ated by flames that moved so fast there was noth­ing fire­fight­ers could do.

The blaze that started Thurs­day out­side the hilly town of Par­adise has grown to 156 square miles and de­stroyed more than 6,700 build­ings, al­most all of them homes, mak­ing it Cal­i­for­nia’s most de­struc­tive wild­fire since record­keep­ing be­gan. But crews have made gains and the fire is par­tially con­tained, of­fi­cials said Satur­day.

The dead were found in­side their cars and out­side ve­hi­cles or homes af­ter a des­per­ate evac­u­a­tion that Butte County Sher­iff Kory Honea called “the worstcase sce­nario.” Their iden­ti­ties were not yet known.

“It is what we feared for a long time,” Honea said, not­ing that there was no time to go door to door.

Fires were also burn­ing in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, where a blaze that tore through Mal­ibu man­sions and work­ing-class sub­ur­ban homes in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s hills and canyons killed two peo­ple and had more than dou­bled in size by Satur­day.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is­sued an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion pro­vid­ing fed­eral fund­ing for Butte, Ven­tura and Los An­ge­les coun­ties. He later threat­ened to with­hold fed­eral pay­ments to Cal­i­for­nia, claim­ing its for­est man­age­ment is “so poor.”

Trump tweeted Satur­day that “there is no rea­son for th­ese mas­sive, deadly and costly fires in Cal­i­for­nia.” Trump 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!”

Pa­cific Gas & Elec­tric Co. re­ported to state reg­u­la­tors that it ex­pe­ri­enced a prob­lem on an elec­tri­cal trans­mis­sion line near the site of the fire min­utes be­fore it broke out. The com­pany had can­celed plans to cut off power to the area be­cause of high winds be­fore flames ig­nited.

The fire in Par­adise, about 180 miles north­east of San Fran­cisco, was still burn­ing out of con­trol.

JIM WIL­SON NYT

Ve­hi­cles gut­ted by fire line a road lead­ing from Par­adise, Calif., on Fri­day. As au­thor­i­ties as­sessed the dam­age wrought by the Camp wild­fire in this forested re­tire­ment com­mu­nity of about 27,000, one state of­fi­cial de­scribed the town as “razed.”

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