Paradise • Thousands of firefighters battled blazes in northern and southern California on Tuesday as body recovery teams searched the remains of houses and charred cars for victims of the deadliest wildfire in the history of the US state.
At least 50 deaths have been reported statewide so far (at press time) from the late-season wildfires, and with hundreds of people unaccounted for, the toll is likely to rise.
Most of the fatalities have been caused by the so-called “Camp Fire” in and around the town of Paradise, population 26,000, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains about 80 miles (130km) north of the capital Sacramento.
“Today, an additional six human remains were recovered, which brings the total to 48. All six of those remains were located in Paradise, and they were located within homes,” Sheriff Kory Honea told a news conference.
Another two deaths have been reported from the “Woolsey Fire”, north of Los Angeles.
Paradise, which is home to many retirees and has experienced an unusually dry fall, was virtually razed to the ground by the fast-moving “Camp Fire” blaze. Melissa Schuster, a member of the Paradise town council, told ABC News that the entire town “is a toxic wasteland right now”.
“We have teams — you know, coroner teams — that have to go house to house and vehicle to vehicle,” Schuster told ABC.
The fires have forced a quarter of a million people to flee their homes and seven evacuation shelters have been set up in Butte County, three of which are already full, according to the authorities. — AFP