California forest fires are not controlled, they drive 2,500,000 people from homes

CLOSE

Fierce flames in Southern California approached coastal homes along the famous Pacific Coast Highway in the Malibu area. Forest fire scenes were taken by a crew aboard a Firehawk helicopter from Los Angeles County.
USA TODAY

MALIBU, California – Firefighters hoped that a short break of twenty howling would give them a chance to block, or at least slow down, one of two massive California forest fires that claimed nine people dead and pushed a quarter of a million people from their homes.

Cal Fire officials said the Woolsey fire, which destroyed at least 150 homes and forced residents to evacuate the entire seaside town of Malibu, was still classified as "zero content".

The Camp Fire, which wiped out the The city of Paradise in Butte County, 80 miles north of Sacramento, contained only 5%.

The short break in the strong winds on Saturday could give the firefighters the opportunity to check the edges of the fires and exchange the crews, replacing the firefighters who worked for two days without rest, said the county fire chief Los Angeles Daryl Osby.

But with the wind expected to return to 35 mph on Sunday, it is likely that more homes will be lost, Osby warned.

Two additional deaths reported to Malibu may have been related to the fire that struck the area Friday night, according to reports from the Department of Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Nani Cholakians, according to reports from KTLA -TV.

In Paris, President Donald Trump issued an emergency statement that provides federal funding for the Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, but later threatened on Twitter to retain federal payments in California, claiming that forest management is "so poor".

"Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of poor forest management," he wrote. "Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"

The hardest hit was Paradise, a city of 27,000 inhabitants in the hills of the Sierra Nevada, where nine people died, some burned in their cars while trying to escape from the sudden approach of the flames.

The city is a popular retirement community, which raises concerns from older residents and properties that have been reported missing.

Friday, dozens of cars burned and SUVs lined the main road out of paradise, known simply as Skyway, reduced to their naked metal by the flames that melted the engine blocks in aluminum, the door handles in vaporized plastic and exploded the windows.

In the afternoon, a small army of firemen and rescuers made their way through the debris, small fires that burned on the trees and in the ruins of the houses. Power lines covered the streets and strong smoke blocked the sun.

For Cinda Larimer, it was the fourth time in 20 years that she evacuated her home in Paradise. Three times she returned to an intact structure.

Not this time. All she has left is a minivan with four cats, a turtle and her dog named Buddy.

"We've lost everything," said Larimer, 53, as the ashes of the burning city came to his shoulders about five miles outside of Paradise. "My mother, she evacuated and took only two dresses, why? For the same reason: we all thought we would go home today."

More: The fires in California are already the most destructive in the history of the state

More: Trump threatens to attract federal funds to Calif. Fires for the "bad management" of forests

More: Inside the worst fire ever seen in California

The camp of fire, which exploded at 140 square miles and destroyed more than 6,700 facilities – most of which houses – is the most destructive fire in California since the recording began.

In Southern California, west of Los Angeles, Woolsey's fire reached nearly 55 acres after bypassing Highway 101, the main coastal artery, and running towards the sea.

In less than two days, the Woolsey Fire and the smaller Hill Fire, also in Ventura County, destroyed more than 150 homes and required evacuation orders for more than 250,000 people, fire officials said.

Officials ordered the entire city to be evacuated, stretching 21 miles along the coast and including celebrity homes like Lady Gaga, Mel Gibson and Cher.

The attempt to escape from the flames was hindered by blocked roads. In addition, power was interrupted in many parts of Malibu, causing gasoline pumps to fail.

Woodyard reported Malibu, Hughes of Paradise, California.

Contribution: The Associated Press

Automatic playback

Show thumbnails

Show captions

Last slide of next slide

Read or share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/11/10/california-wildfires-roar-paradise-woosley-camp-fire/1956183002/

Leave a comment

Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.