100 missing, people may find bodies in burned homes
Published 1:53 PM EST Nov 14, 2018
Authorities in California on Wednesday released the names of almost 100 people reported missing since the deadliest wildfire in California history began burning last week.
The death toll has reached 48 and continues to rise – and more bodies might be discovered by evacuees returning home, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea warned.
"If you see anyone on the list who is no longer missing, please contact us so their name can be removed," he said.
Honea said the deliberate search through the rubble of the Camp Fire, 90 miles north of Sacramento, is continuing. But he acknowledged that the "very, very difficult task" of searching for remains could mean that when residents return to their charred homes they could discover remains themselves amid the carnage.
"I know that's a very difficult thing to think about," Honea said, noting that anyone who discovers a fire victim should immediately notify his office.
Tally of death, destruction rises
The number of homes, businesses and other structures destroyed by the Camp Fire rose to more than 8,000 as of Wednesday, Cal Fire said. And 500 miles to the south, the Woolsey Fire burning west of Los Angeles was blamed for at least two deaths. Authorities were investigating a report of a third body found. The fire has destroyed more than 450 homes and businesses, Cal Fire said.
Interior Secretary Zinke to visit fire areas
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced he will visit California regions affected by wildfires if conditions permit. Zinke was scheduled to visit areas affected by the Camp Fire in Northern California on Wednesday before traveling south to the Woolsey burn area on Thursday. President Donald Trump said he has approved an expedited request for a major disaster declaration for the state.
More: How do wildfires start? All it takes is a spark
More: 'Unprecedented' Camp Fire's death toll rises again, to 48
Encouraging news on Woolsey Fire
Chief Daryl Osby of Los Angeles County Fire Department said firefighters were making progress against the Woolsey Fire, listed as 47 percent contained. This despite Santa Ana winds that buffeted the area with gusts of up to 45 mph and a forecast calling for no rain until at least the end of next week. “(We’re) getting the upper hand here. …There is a lot of confidence as it relates to the containment and control of this fire. We’re feeling better. Our containment percentages have increased,” Osby said.
Cooler weather curbs growth of Camp Fire
Cooler weather and a respite from the wind was slowing the growth of the Camp Fire, Cal Fire said. The fire, which has burned more than 200 square miles and destroyed the town of Paradise, was listed as 35 percent contained. The fire has burned more than 150 square miles.
Cause of Camp Fire under investigation
Cal Fire was keeping people out of the area where the fire began while it conducts an investigation into the cause of the blaze. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey also locked down the area where the fire started protected for a possible criminal investigation. A PG&E spokesman on Tuesday declined to say whether work on the power lines had anything to do with starting the fire. "The cause of the Camp Fire has not been determined. Cal Fire is investigating the cause of the fire," said Paul Moreno, a PG&E spokesman.
This is how wildfires start
Deadly wildfires can begin with something as simple as a downed power line, a flat tire or a tossed cigarette butt. Once a fire ignites, the combination of wind, heat, oxygen and fuel (tinder-dry forests, brush, etc.) can cause it to explode in size. In the early history of the Earth, nearly all wildfires were started by lightning strikes. Nowadays, 84 percent of wildfires in the USA are started by people, according to a comprehensive study in 2017 published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
No pets – OK, they can stay
The signs pasted on the windows of the gymnasium at Pierce College in Woodland Hills are clear: “No Pets.” But, inside, a giant tortoise is ... slowly ... walking ... laps ... around the lobby of Pierce College’s gymnasium. The college canceled classes because of the Woolsey Fire and turned its gym into a Red Cross Emergency Evacuation Center. Many evacuees left their homes in a hurry, and cats and dogs are a fact of life at the shelter. “What we know is that people love their animals, and we’re here to help,” said Allison Cardona, deputy director for County of Los Angeles Animal Care and Control.
Pink's hubby has warning for looters
Carey Hart, husband of singer Pink, made it clear that he is not afraid to exercise his Second Amendment rights against looters in areas damaged by the Woolsey Fire west of Los Angeles. The former motocross star posted on Instagram a photo of a dozen gun-wielding men standing in front of a sign that reads, "Looters will be shot on site." Hart commented under the picture that he is not one of the masked men, adding "if you are a looter, think twice if you are heading back into Malibu."
Contributing: Doyle Rice, Sandy Hooper, Cydney Henderson, Kristin Lam, Steve Kiggins