The death toll in the massive fires in Northern and Southern California has risen to 66, with more than 600 people still missing. The Camp Fire, which largely destroyed the town of Paradise, California, has killed 63 people. Three people have died in the Woolsey Fire that swept into Malibu.
The New York Times estimated that in Butte County, where the Camp Fire struck, 9,700 homes have been destroyed. In total, 81,000 people have been evacuated in all of California. The full extent of the damage has not yet been surveyed, meaning that more bodies are likely to be found in the thousands of burned-out and destroyed buildings.
While the death toll from the Camp Fire will almost certainly rise, many of the hundreds of people listed as missing may be alive and just have not been able to get in touch with authorities, the Butte County sheriff told the Associated Press. The purpose of the extensive list, the sheriff said, was to prompt people to contact authorities.
“It is by far the most deadly single fire in California history, and it’s going to get worse, unfortunately,” Thom Porter, a California state fire official, told ABC News.
The exact causes of the massive fires are still unknown, though much of the state has long been at risk of fire, which is only exacerbated by high winds, low humidity, and little rain. A factor in the massive loss in lives and property is the development of homes now built deeper into areas that can easily burn.
Firefighters “appeared to be getting a handle on the two massive blazes,” as winds slackened, ABC reported. The AP reported the Camp Fire was “40 percent contained.”
Even parts of the state not directly threatened by the fire have been affected by ash blowing from hundreds of miles away. The San Francisco Bay Area is still under an air quality advisory through Nov. 20, with air rated “very unhealthy” in San Francisco and “unhealthy” in Oakland.
President Trump is scheduled to visit the area this weekend after he initially blamed the fires on poor forest management by state officials.
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