Death Toll In CA Wildfires At 25; New “Devil Winds” Expected; Choking Air Quality; 250,000 Evacuated

The death toll from California’s multiple wildfires has risen to 25, after 14 more bodies were discovered in or near the Northern California town of Paradise, bringing the number of confirmed dead in the so-called Camp Fire to 23. Over 6,700 structures were destroyed just one day after the fire began, while 110 people remain missing according to authorities. 

We are doing everything we possibly can to identify those remains and make contact with the next of kin so we can return the remains to the family,” said Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea Saturday morning. 

A red flag warning remains in effect in Northern California due to strong winds and dry conditions, while Southern California officials have warned similar gusts expected to kick up on Sunday. 

“We’ll get sustained winds of up to 40 mph and gusts between 60 mph and 70 mph,” said NWS meteorologist Marc Chenard, adding that he expectes Santa Ana “devil wind” to hit the Los Angeles area.

It’s nothing but bad news,” said Chenard.

Two fatalities have been reported in the Southern California Woolsey fire, which has ripped through more than 83,000 acres as of Saturday night, destroying 177 structures, and is just 5% contained. California fire officials estimate full containment by Thursday, while over 3,200 firefighters are on the scene. Approximately 57,000 structures are considered at risk.

A Reuters cameraman recorded himself trapped inside his car as the Malibu area fire rages around him: 

Flames blowing from homes burned down in the Woolsey fire. Photo: David McNew (via Axios)
Horses and other livestock were evacuated to the beach

Air quality 

Los Angeles public health officials have issued an air quality alert for central LA County, west and east San Fernando Valley, and western San Gabriel Valley, as a thick blanket of smoke has enveloped the region. Officials have advised wearing respirator masks with a rating of N95 or higher. 

And while the high Santa Ana winds that have fueled the SoCal fires died down a bit over the weekend, the National Weather Service predicts a resurgence expected to last until Tuesday. Fire crews face “steep terrain, limited access and extreme fire behavior,” according to CalFire. 

President Trump has come under fire for remarks over Twitter criticizing California officials for poor forest management, while threatening “no more fed payments!” due to “gross mismanagement. 

Trump later said that if people “don’t evacuate quickly, they risk being over taken by the fire,” adding that residents should “Please listen to evacuation orders from State and local officials!”

On Sunday the President resumed his criticism of California forestry policy, tweeting: “With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!” 

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