US Camp Fire deadliest wildfire in California’s history, death toll at 56
Nearly 9 000 homes have been lost and 138 000 acres have been charred in the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County, California as at Wednesday night, 14 November 2018. In all, 10 321 structures have been destroyed and 8 650 of those are single-family homes. The massive wildfire has burned 138 000 acres and is only 35 percent contained. About 52 000 people remain evacuated and 1 385 people are in shelters. Wildfire experts say the Northern California wildfire that has killed at least 56 is the deadliest in a century. Forty-seven of those 56 have been identified. Eight more bodies were found on Wednesday. California officials say the fire burning in a rural area far north of San Francisco killed more people than any other blaze in the state's recorded history.
Named after Camp Creek Road, its place of origin, the fire started on 8 November 2018, in Butte County, in Northern California. By the morning of 13 November the fire, fuelled by strong winds, caused 56 civilian fatalities, injured three fire fighters, covered an area of about 135 000 acres (55 000ha) and either damaged or destroyed at least 8 817 structures, with most of the damage occurring within the first two days of the fire. The fire forced the evacuation of Centerville, Concow, Magalia, Paradise, Pulga and Yankee Hill and threatened the communities of Butte Creek Canyon, Butte Valley, Chico, Forest Ranch, Helltown, Inskip, Oroville and Stirling City. Within the first day, the Camp Fire had essentially destroyed the community of Concow and the town of Paradise, incinerating homes, businesses, churches, a hospital, school and a rest home. The fire began on the same day as the Woolsey Fire and the Hill Fire in Southern California.
According to CalFire these were the numbers of fire fighters and equipment as of 13 November: 5 615 fire fighters, 622 engines, 71 water tenders, 97 fire crews, 107 bulldozers and 21 helicopters from all over the state and the Western United States.
Fire fighters have received help from Colorado, in the form of the world’s largest airplane designed for fire fighting. The Global SuperTanker, a modified Boeing 747-400 that can carry 18 000 gallons of fire retardant, was deployed Friday and Saturday, the Denver Post reported. By comparison, standard tankers used to fight fires hold only about 1 100 gallons, the report said. So the SuperTanker does the work of 15 to 16 normal-sized tankers, CEO Dan Reese of the plane’s Colorado Springs-based owning company said. The jumbo aircraft dropped four loads of fire retardant in California on Friday and more on Saturday, the newspaper reported.
At least 56 people have been killed in the devastating Camp fire in Northern California and 130 people are still missing, authorities said on Wednesday evening. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told reporters that search and rescue officials had discovered eight additional bodies on Wednesday, adding to a rising death toll in what has become the state’s deadliest fire in history. More than 130 000 acres have been burned in the blaze, which was only 35 percent contained at the time of the news conference. “This is the most difficult part of my job,” Honea said. “A lot of work has been done with regard to … our efforts to find unaccounted for and missing persons further down the road. We have brought a lot of resources in.”
Around 460 people have been sifting through the wreckage left by the fire and officials were using nearly two dozen cadaver dogs to find human remains. Honea said the additional bodies were all discovered in the Paradise area. “The air quality is extremely unhealthy,” a public health official said at the briefing Wednesday. “I know we’re working on putting together some information … about short-term and longer-term health effects. The same preventative measures are being recommended.” Aviva Braun, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said dry conditions and winds would continue and that the agency expected rain to arrive by the end of next week.
Honea said the county was flying in a rapid DNA identification system to help identify victims of the fire and urged those with missing family members to donate DNA samples to help determine who had been killed. The sheriff said his office had tentatively identified 47 people but that he was still waiting on confirmation. Many of the missing people were 65 years and older, according to a list released by the sheriff’s office.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited the communities affected by the fire on Wednesday alongside California Governor Jerry Brown. While he acknowledged that wildfires were getting worse in the state, he failed to link their severity to climate change. “Each trip, I say this is the worst fire I’ve seen. We’re here today and this is the worst I’ve seen,” Zinke said, adding that it was “not the time to point fingers.”
Brown, on the other hand, said bleakly that Californians were living “in a different kind of world.” “What causes these catastrophes … the changing of the climate, the winds, the dryness and the continuing drought,” he said. “We’re in for difficult times. It will never be the same.”
Source: Huffington Post