At Least 36 Dead in California Wildfires

Strong winds and drought are causing the forest fires in California to continue to spread rapidly. So far, at least 36 dead have been recovered. More than 200,000 people had to leave their homes.

The death toll from forest fires in California has risen to at least 25. In the area around the northern California village of Paradise alone, 33 victims have been recovered, the Butte County Fire Department said. In the burned-out ruins of houses more victims are feared.

More than 6450 residential buildings have been destroyed, around 15,000 buildings threatened by the flames. More than 4,000 firefighters are involved in the worst wildfires in the history of the West Coast state.

The extent of the destruction is hard to describe, said the mayor of the small community the US channel CNN. Her house burned down, as had all members of the city council lost their homes, said Jody Jones. They are facing “hard work” to rebuild the place.

Due to strong winds and low humidity, the fires continue to spread rapidly. There are two wildfires in the region on the northern edge of Los Angeles. Tens of thousands of people had to flee.

The so-called Woolsey fire charred an area of more than 280 square kilometers by Saturday evening. At least 150 houses were burned down, said the fire department. Around 50,000 buildings are still in danger. However, as the winch slowed, the firefighting teams made some progress. The conflagration is now contained to five percent, it said.

For several villages was on the weekend continue to evict. Dozens of houses were burned, said the mayor of Malibu. Two more people were found dead in the coastal town, police chief John Benedict of Los Angeles County said.

Many celebrities have expensive villas on the coast and in the adjacent hill country. Stars such as singer and actress Lady Gaga, director and Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and television personalities Caitlyn Jenner and Kim Kardashian were hit by the evacuations.

US President Donald Trump accused the California authorities of mismanagement. “There’s no reason for these massive, deadly and expensive California fires except bad forest management,” Trump wrote on Twitter. He threatened the state ruled by the Democrats with the withdrawal of federal funds.

The Association of Firefighters in California (CPF) dismissed the allegations. Trump has pronounced an “uninformed political threat to the innocent victims of these devastating fires,” said association chief Brian Rice. This was also a “shameful” attack on the firefighters who risked their lives.

Dryness, warmer weather and the expansion of residential areas into forests have resulted in forest fires lasting longer. A five-year drought in California ended last year, but 2018 was also very dry, according to US government analysis.

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