Grim search for more fire victims; 31 dead across California

More than 8,000 firefighters battled wildfires that scorched at least 1,040 square kilometres

  • Nov. 12, 2018 11:30 a.m.

Jimmy Clements, who stayed at his home as the Camp Fire raged through Paradise, Calif., leans against his fence, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. Clements, whose home stands among destroyed residences, said he built an FM radio out of a potato and wire to keep up with news about the fire. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The death toll from the wildfire that incinerated Paradise and surrounding areas climbed to 29 — matching the mark for the deadliest single blaze in California history.

Crews continued searching for bodies in the smouldering ruins, with nearly 230 people unaccounted for.

Statewide the number of dead stood at 31, including two victims in Southern California, from wildfires raging at both ends of the state.

Ten search teams were working in Paradise — a town of 27,000 that was engulfed by flames Thursday — and in surrounding communities in Northern California’s Sierra Nevada foothills. Authorities called in a DNA lab and anthropologists to help identify what in some cases were only bones or bone fragments.

All told, more than 8,000 firefighters battled wildfires that scorched at least 1,040 square kilometres of the state, with the flames feeding on dry brush and driven by winds that had a blowtorch effect.

“This is truly a tragedy that all Californians can understand and respond to,” Gov. Jerry Brown said Sunday. “It’s a time to pull together and work through these tragedies.”

VIDEO: Northern California wildfire nearly quadruples in size

California is requesting emergency aid from the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has blamed what he called poor forest management for the fires.

The governor said the federal and state governments must do more forest management but that climate change is the greater source of the problem.

“And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we’re now witnessing and will continue to witness in the coming years,” Brown said.

Drought and warmer weather attributed to climate change, and the building of homes deeper into forests have led to longer and more destructive wildfire seasons in California. While California officially emerged from a five-year drought last year, much of the northern two-thirds of the state is abnormally dry.

Celebrities whose coastal homes were damaged or destroyed or who were forced to flee expressed sympathy for the less famous and offered their gratitude to firefighters.

The magnitude of the devastation was beginning to set in even as the blaze raged on. Public safety officials toured the Paradise area to begin discussing the recovery. Much of what makes the city function was gone.

“Paradise was literally wiped off the map,” said Tim Aboudara, a fireighters union representative. He said at least 36 firefighters lost their own homes, most in the Paradise area.

Others continued the desperate search for friends or relatives, calling evacuation centres, hospitals, police and the coroner’s office.

The 29 dead in Northern California matched the deadliest single fire on record, a 1933 blaze in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. A series of wildfires in Northern California’s wine country last fall killed 44 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

A vehicle drives through smoke from a wildfire near Pulga, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Just Posted

Ponoka Food Bank doubles number of hampers given away last month

Comparing the first two weeks in November in 2018 and 2019

PHOTOS: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …

Winter wonderland of lights: Everywhere you go in Ponoka, people are getting… Continue reading

Ponoka family physician retiring after 40 years of service to community

Dr. Brendan Bunting is hanging up his stethoscope after 40 years as… Continue reading

“Ponoka Civic Centre” is now the official name of Ponoka town hall building

Signage will also feature Cree word “mamawayawin”

Ponoka County struck by large amount of unpaid property taxes

CAO now has some discretion in cancelling certain tax penalties

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

Wanted man resists arrest, found in possession of machetes

Donovan Rain of Maskwacis facing multiple charges

Final appeal rejected for man convicted in deaths of missing Alberta seniors

Lyle and Marie McCann were in their 70s when they left their home in St. Albert in 2010 and vanished

Infants should be tested for autism if older siblings are diagnosed, Canadian study suggests

Blood test for infants with sibling who’s been diagnosed would get information to families earlier

Rural Alberta gets more police officers, but must pay for them directly

Premier wants areas to pay portion of overall costs on rising scale to bring in extra $200M by 2024

Two vehicle Hwy 11 collision results in 2 dead

Blackfalds RCMP were dispatched to a serious collision on Highway 11

Rebels win second in row 5-2 over Moose Jaw

32 saves from Goalie Byron Fancy leads the way for Red Deer

Nearly 40% of Canadians want creationism taught in schools: poll

23% of Canadians believe God created humans in the past 10,000 years

Blackfalds RCMP lay charges following fatal pedestrian collision

35-year-old male died in the hospital as a result of injuries

Most Read