The Slatest

Death Toll From Northern California’s Camp Fire Rises to 42, Making It the Deadliest in State History

In the burned wreckage of a home, two officers wearing gloves look through the rubble. A layer of ash coats everything.
Alameda County Sheriff Coroner officers search for human remains at a burned residence in Paradise, California, on Monday.
Josh Edelson/Getty Images

In and around the town of Paradise, which has been largely destroyed by the Camp Fire raging since Thursday in Butte County in Northern California, authorities found the remains of 13 of the fire’s victims on Monday.

The discovery brought the death toll up to 42 and made the Camp Fire the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history. The number of fatalities could continue to grow, as Butte County’s sheriff said at a news conference Monday night that more than 200 people are still missing.

The town of Paradise was popular among the elderly and retirees. According to the New York Times, one-quarter of its residents were over 65 and 14 percent lived below the poverty line. Many of the neighborhoods destroyed were mobile-home retirement communities. The bodies that were found showed residents trapped in their homes by the fire or attempting to flee on foot or in vehicles. It’s unknown how much, or even if, the town will be able to rebuild.

The Camp Fire is considered the most destructive in state history, as it has destroyed more than 7,100 homes and other structures. It is still only 30 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

To the south, another fire known as the Woolsey Fire has burned at least 435 structures, including the Malibu homes of celebrities, including Miley Cyrus, Gerard Butler, and Neil Young. Two have died in the fire.

The Woolsey Fire has also burned homes in the Thousand Oaks community, which is still reeling from a devastating mass shooting Wednesday. The fire is also just 30 percent contained.

According to the Los Angeles Times, after giving the state a small break over the weekend, the Santa Ana winds returned Monday and are expected to gain strength through Tuesday, causing the fire to spread in increasingly unpredictable ways.

Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate from the paths of both fires. On Monday, President Trump, who had previously angered Californians by wrongly blaming poor forest management for the fires, approved a major disaster declaration for the state.