MALIBOU LAKE, Calif. – a growing trio of wildfires incinerated large swaths of Northern and Southern California, killing 11 people, displacing hundreds of thousands and turning to retirement community called Paradise into acres of ash and charred foundations. The massive Camp Fire north of Sacramento had destroyed some 6,700 structures, becoming the most destructive hell in a history of fires.
Since Thursday, more than 200,000 Californians have been displaced – greater than the population of the city of Orlando. In addition to the dead, dozens have been reported missing. Authorities warned that the property losses would also be staggering. A pair of fires near Los Angeles threatened Malibu mansions and destroyed Paramount Ranch, the filming location of the HBO series Westworld.
Saturday, President Trump fanned an ongoing dispute with California leaders, blaming mismanagement of state resources for the destruction and death.
"Trump tweeted Saturday morning." "Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments! "
Saturday morning was the blazes, but he has loudly and consistently blamed intensifying wildfires on poor resource management by California officials. Twice in October, The Fix's Aaron Blake wrote.
California officials have countered Trump's claims in the past, saying that ever-intense fires are the result of climate change, which dries up vegetation and turns fire-prone areas of the state into a tinderbox.
In Northern California's Butte County, about 90 miles north of state capital Sacramento, residents The hell grew up with incredible speed, claimed nine lives and turned into sunny days into an end-of-days scene of flames, smoke, sparks and wide destruction.
Named after nearby Camp Creek, the blaze is not yet done. It was burned at least 90,000 acres, more than 140 square miles, and was only 20 percent contained by Saturday, causing officials to declare a state of emergency over the weekend.
"Red flag" conditions would be persistent on and off Monday, hot, dry and windy.
Butte County Sheriff Kory L. Honea told reporters at a conference Friday night that she had found nine people who had been killed by the fire. three outside of houses; and two others, one inside a home, and another near a car.
As well as three firefighters. And Honea's deputies were still looking into some 35 reports of missing people.
"This event was the worst-case scenario," Honea said. "It's the event that we have feared for a long time."
In Southern California's Ventura County, 12 people dead, more wildfires had broken out, forcing 100,000 people in Thousand Oaks, Malibu and other areas to flee their homes. The Woolsey Fire had burned some 35,000 acres, officials said, while the nearby Hill Fire had burned through 6,000.
On Saturday, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Chief John Benedict told the Associated Press.
The deaths are the first from the pair of wildfires burning to the north and west of downtown Los Angeles.
Paradise had fired in the worst. Its main commercial street transformed into a smoking runway of destruction. Officials said that 6,453 homes and 260 businesses had been destroyed, making the fire the most destructive in California's history. The previous record holder, the Tubbs Fire in the state's wine country, was just one year ago.
Marc Kessler, 55, a science teacher at a public middle school in Paradise, said the sky turned black soon after he arrived at work.
"He said in an interview." It was raining black pieces of soot, coming down like a black snowstorm and starting fires everywhere. "Within minutes, the town was engulfed."
They were piled 200 or so students into their personal vehicles. Bus drivers drove through flames to help out, he said. One of his students pointed out what they thought was the moon in the darkened sky.
"I said, 'That's not the moon. That's the sun, "" he recalled, his voice cracking. "There were times when you could not see through the smoke."
The Mayor of Paradise, Jody Jones, said to have been destroyed.
"Jones told CNN." "There's really not much left."
Paradise resident Brynn Chatfield posted on her path.
"Heavenly father, please help us," she prayed in the video. "Please help us to be safe."
The video ended as the vehicle emerged from the flames into a normal day. Chatfield later posted the video, which has been seen nearly 2 million times.
"My hometown of Paradise is on fire," she wrote. "My family is evacuated and safe. Not all my friends are safe. "
On Saturday, as some evacuation orders were lifted, people began returning to their neighborhoods to see what was left.
Jeff McClenahan, 53, a college professor, returned Saturday to his home in Malibou Lake, which had jumped Highway 101.
He stared, disbelieving, then dropped to his knees, sobbing.
"On the one hand, it's just crap," he said. "It's stuff. But it's a lot of history. Everything, our whole lives were in here. "
Achenbach reported from Thousand Oaks, Calif. E. Aaron Williams in Paradise, Calif .; Tony Biasotti, Katie Mettler and Katie Zezima in Thousand Oaks; and Jason Samenow in Washington contributed to this report.
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