Teams search for bodies in California after wildfire claims 42 lives


The town of Paradise in Butte County in northern California has been engulfed by the deadliest wildfire in the state's history. Fire crews are working to fight that blaze, along with another large wildfire in Southern California, where at least two deaths have been reported.

Firefighters from California's Foster City Fire Department on Monday came to the rescue of a cat who was burned in the Camp Fire, which has left at least 48 people dead and over 100 missing. "We're very lucky, we only had one house in our family that didn't make it and that's my mom's boyfriend's", said Devon DeMatteo.

Most are from Paradise, California, a town in the Sierra foothills, about 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco, that was largely incinerated last Thursday.

Bechtold said he spoke with the sheriff's office Wednesday morning, and they confirmed they have an active missing person's case on Caddy. "If you've been up there, you also know the magnitude of the scene we're dealing with. We're here today, and this is the worst I've seen". The Camp Fire has burned more than 135,000 acres.

Teams of workers wielding chainsaws cleared downed power lines and other obstacles from Paradise streets while forensics investigators picked through barren, fire-scorched lots. As of Monday night, almost half of the evacuation centers in Chico, Oroville and nearby towns were at capacity.

An additional six bodies were discovered Tuesday in the town, which had been nearly totally burned down by the deadliest fire in the state's history, said Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea at a daily media briefing.

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At a news conference late on Sunday, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the bodies of five people had been found in their burned-out homes and a sixth was found inside a vehicle.

Her next-door neighbors opened the back gate so her three dogs could escape before they fled the flames, and the dogs were picked up several days later waiting patiently in the charred remains of their home, she said.

More than 50,000 people have fled the Camp blaze, according to member station KQED.

Forecasts called for winds to pick up again Monday night in Butte County, though with less force than previous days, National Weather Service meteorologist Aviva Braun told reporters.

An interactive map from Cal Fire shows the extent of damage in Paradise and surrounding areas.

Recent drought conditions in California contributed to the rapid escalation of fires in the state, according to a manager of the National Fire Protection Association.

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Ventura County contains the city of Thousand Oaks, which is still recovering from a mass shooting at a bar on November 8. A third smaller fire, Hill Fire, is being contained near the Woolsey Fire.

Shares of the utility plunged more than 20 percent in Wednesday trading after it said in a regulatory filing that it could face a significant financial hit if its equipment is found to be the cause of the blaze.

Santa Ana winds are strong, dry winds that high-pressure systems push from east to west.

In Ventura County, where the Woolsey Fire began, SoCal Edison reported that a circuit relayed about two minutes before the fire started Thursday afternoon. A spokeswoman for the California Public Utilities Commission tells the station that it will incorporate those reports into its investigation.

"The president's message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering, as well as the men and women on the front lines", Brian K. Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters, said.

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