California Wildfires Rage, Death Toll Climbs to 31
Wildfires raged at both ends of California on Sunday, with the deadly infernos barely contained and strong winds and dry conditions in the forecast.
The death toll stood at 31 and was likely to increase as rescue workers reached vast regions left in charred ruins. The Northern California sheriff also reported that 228 people are still unaccounted for in the massive wildfire.
Thousands of people have evacuated with what little of their life’s possession they could escape with.
Authorities say one of the California wildfires is about 25 percent contained and the other only 10 percent.
More than 8,000 firefighters are battling the Woolsey Fire and the Hill Fire in southern California, and the Camp Fire, in the northern part of the state, that erupted Thursday fueled by drought conditions and wind.
Officials said the Camp Fire has become the most destructive wildfire in state history, and the third deadliest.
Previously, the Tubbs Fire, which burned nearly 16,000 hectares in Lake, Napa, and Sonoma counties in 2017, had been considered the most destructive wildfire in state history. The Tubbs Fire killed 22 people and destroyed more than 5,500 structures.
The Butte County Sheriff’s office said the Camp Fire victims were mostly found dead inside or near their cars. The sudden evacuation led to highway gridlock, forcing some to flee on foot.
Officials said the fire has destroyed 6,453 homes and another 260 commercial structures and has grown to 404 square kilometers.