What We Know So Far
- Two major wind-driven wildfires in California scorched more than 250,000 acres and forced entire cities to evacuate.
- In Northern California, officials said at least 88 people have died, three firefighters have been injured, and more than 18,000 structures burned after the Camp fire leveled the town of Paradise, making it the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.
- Hundreds of people remain unaccounted for after that fire, which has left thousands of residents homeless.
- In Southern California, more than 200,000 residents were ordered to flee their homes as the Woolsey and Hill fires tore through the area around Thousand Oaks, less than 24 hours after a mass shooting at a local bar.
- The entire city of Malibu was forced to evacuate due to the blaze, which destroyed more than 1,500 structures and prompted the evacuation of 75,000 homes.
- Three deaths have been linked to the Woolsey fire, which officials have declared is 100% contained. The Camp fire was 100% contained as of Sunday.
- Statewide, more than 272,000 people have been evacuated, and around 9,000 firefighters battled the flames, according to state officials.
- Here’s how to help the victims of the devastating wildfires.
The number of people missing from the Camp Fire has dropped to 25
The number of people still missing after California's deadliest wildfire has fallen to 25, officials said Saturday, with no new deaths reported.
The official list of missing individuals has fluctuated widely in the weeks since the Camp Fire ignited, and at one point included more than 1,300 names.
The number has fallen rapidly since Monday, when officials announced a massive effort to recover human remains would be winding down. At that point, 203 people were still unaccounted for, according to the Butte County Sheriff's Office.
In the meantime, the death toll from the fire has held steady at 88, with no new deaths confirmed since Monday. Authorities have positively identified 41 of the victims who died in the fire, and have tentatively identified 42 others, the sheriff's department said in a statement Saturday.
At a press conference Wednesday, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said that officials were "seeing fewer and fewer remains being located."
“I believe that we have done our due diligence in regard to searching for human remains,” he said. “My sincere hope is that no additional remains will be located.”
But he added that there is still a possibility residents will discover human remains, including bones and bone fragments, when they begin repopulating areas badly impacted by the fire.
— Grace Wyler
The Camp fire is 100% contained, state officials said
The Camp fire, the most deadly and destructive wildfire in California, is now 100% contained, officials said on Sunday. The fire burned 153,336 acres.
Officials said Sunday that 85 people have died and that three firefighters were injured.
Although the fire is now contained, the work of responders is far from over, according to an update from Cal Fire.
"Fire suppression repair personnel continue [to] conduct rehab where possible," the latest report read.
"Search and Rescue Crews, US&R Teams, and engine companies continue with search efforts."
Climate change is already bad for the US economy, according to a new report
There’s no doubt about it, a government report concludes, climate change is already wreaking havoc across every corner of the US. This means more damaging wildfires in California, more storms dumping intense rain on Texas, more coastal flooding at high tides in Florida, and other mayhem ahead.
The new report, released Friday afternoon, concludes “that the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic well-being are rising.”
Read more about the findings here.
The Camp fire is now 95% contained as the death toll rises again
California's most deadly and destructive wildfire is now almost contained by fire crews, officials said Thursday.
The Camp fire, which has scorched the state's north and destroyed almost 14,000 residences and more than 500 businesses, is 95% contained, Cal Fire said in a statement late on Thanksgiving.
"All containment lines continued to hold throughout the day with the rain assisting in extinguishing hot spots and smoldering fire," the latest report read. "Firefighters continue tactical patrols while responding to calls for service in and around the fire area."
The death toll from the Camp fire, which has burned more than 150,000 acres, also ticked up by one on Thursday to 84.
Search and rescue crews continue to methodically search the fire area for missing victims.
Three deaths have also been linked to the Woolsey fire in the state's south, which officials declared 100% contained Wednesday.
After losing their homes to the fires, survivors enjoyed a warm Thanksgiving meal
The destructive wildfires in California have resulted in the tragic loss of dozens of lives, as well as the widespread destruction of communities across the state.
Thousands of people have been displaced, having lost their homes in the fires.
But on Thursday, wildfire survivors were able to enjoy a moment of respite in the form of a warm Thanksgiving meal, thanks to acts of kindness by volunteers, nonprofit organizations, and fellow residents.
Walmart donated more to the Red Cross after it told fire evacuees to leave its parking lot
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed another $100,000 to Red Cross shelters that are temporarily housing evacuees affected by the California wildfires. This donation comes two days after the company asked more than 100 evacuees who had set up camp in a Chico, California, Walmart parking lot after fleeing the devastating fires to find shelter elsewhere, warning that rain could make the site unsafe.
In a note to the Chico community today, the company said: “We want to help make this difficult Thanksgiving Day a little better for fire evacuees by making sure everyone has the opportunity to get warm and dry and can enjoy a hot Thanksgiving meal being provided at area Red Cross shelters. An on-call Red Cross shuttle will be available and departing the Chico Walmart parking lot starting today at noon for everyone to go have a Thanksgiving meal indoors. The shuttle service to the Red Cross facilities will continue through the weekend.”
The Camp fire in Northern California is now 90% contained
The deadly Camp fire is now 90% contained, fire officials said Thanksgiving Day, as up to three-quarters of an inch of rain is expected in Paradise.
Officials said they expected the fire to be fully contained Nov. 30.
“Precipitation has minimized fire activity and all fire lines continue to hold. Firefighters and resources continue to be deployed throughout the fire area to patrol and remove hazards. Search and Rescue crews ... continue to secure buildings and conduct a methodical search within the fire area for missing victims. Fire suppression repair has been temporarily suspended in areas that are inaccessible due to precipitation,” the latest update from Cal Fire read.
In all, the Camp fire has burned 153,336 acres and destroyed 13,631 residences, 514 commercial buildings, and 4,232 other structures.
Rain is expected to turn heavy in Paradise later Thursday evening into Friday.
While the rain is helping firefighting activities, there are concerns about mudflows and flash floods. —Tom Namako
Northern California’s deadly fire is almost under control, but recovery is just beginning
Firefighters continued to gain control of the Camp fire as rain fell Wednesday, and emergency responders were preparing to allow residents back into the burned area within a matter of days.
As of Wednesday, the fire had burned through 153,336 acres and was 85% contained.
“With the heavy rain, that fire activity is almost nothing,” Cal Fire Operations Chief Josh Bischoff said.
Six inches of rainfall was forecast for the area through Saturday, with emergency responders and local residents keeping a watchful eye against flash floods or mudflows.
But as a deadly chapter in California’s history was drawing to a close, the recovery was just beginning. More than 13,000 homes have been destroyed, and the area is littered with toxic debris, including propane tanks, batteries, asbestos, and other carcinogens. By Dec. 2, state officials hope to be working with federal Environmental Protection Agency crews to remove debris, expected to weigh in the tons and require months to get out.
“We need as many crews as we can to get through that first phase as quickly as possible,” the state’s Office of Emergency Services’ Eric Lamoureux said.
Butte County health officials also urged residents to continue living elsewhere until all toxic ash had been removed and the area certified safe. Around 15,000 households have registered with FEMA to help cover costs of their displacement, and the agency said it had given out $9.2 million to locals already to help with immediate needs, such as hotel stays.
Meanwhile, the death toll rose to 83 after remains of two more people were found. The Butte County Sheriff’s Department is working to account for 563 others reported missing.
On Thanksgiving, 830 people would be involved in the search to recover remains of victims, Sheriff Kory Honea said.
“This is important work we’re doing, and we want to get that done,” he said.
The Woolsey fire that burned through Malibu is now 100% contained
The Woolsey fire, which scorched Malibu in what firefighters described as one of the fastest-moving fires they’ve witnessed, was completely contained the day before Thanksgiving.
One of the major fires to hit California in the past two weeks, the Woolsey fire burned through 96,949 acres, including much of the Santa Monica Mountains, since it was sparked Nov. 8.
More than 1,600 structures were destroyed in the flames, and three people were killed in the deadly fire.
About 4,000 residents are still under mandatory evacuation orders in the area, but officials said they would continue to work to repopulate the areas impacted by the fire.
Although a cause for the deadly fire has not yet been determined, officials are looking into a power outage that was reported close to the spot where the Woolsey fire is believed to have been sparked.
Walmart is asking fire evacuees in its parking lot to find shelter elsewhere
Walmart is “respectfully” asking more than 100 evacuees who fled the catastrophic Camp fire and set up a temporary camp in the nearby Chico store’s parking lot to find shelter elsewhere, warning that rainfall could become a health and safety concern.
“We respectfully request that you act with urgency for the safety and well-being of everyone involved and evacuate the property,” a sign posted on the property Tuesday evening read. “The city has received our authorization to move forward with relocating any individuals who choose to ignore the evacuation request and remain on the property.”
The impromptu camp sprung up quickly after the Camp fire leveled the town of Paradise, destroying entire neighborhoods in its path as it became the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history.
Alexandria Kriz, a 36-year-old resident from Chico who has been volunteering at the camp said more than 100 people remain at the site, and many of them plan to remain at the property despite the requests of volunteers, city officials, and Walmart to head to a nearby shelter.
“It appears the people that wanted to get out have gotten out,” she told BuzzFeed News. "I feel like the rain would drive people to shelters, but some people were like, ‘We’re good.””
Volunteers and city officials worry conditions in the parking lot may worsen in the coming days, especially as the first rain in more than a month moves into the region. Portable toilets have been provided to those who seeking refuge at the site, but officials say conditions at the camp are not sustainable indefinitely.
"These spaces of refuge created a wonderful place of kindness and wellbeing for the period immediately following the disaster," Chico City officials said in a statement. "However, this location, remains in place, and does not offer the level of safety, health and services that officials sheltering locations do."
Walmart staff have not removed people from the site, nor set a strict deadline to remove the people who have set up camp, but the company said it was worried about conditions.
"We continue to be concerned about the health, safety and well-being of the individuals remaining on our property and have been working cooperatively with city, county and state officials and local non-profits to increase capacity at local shelters and help create good temporary housing options," Delia Garcia, spokeswoman for Walmart said in a statement. "The weather forecast from the National Weather Service showing steady rain continuing through Friday has has heightened our existing concerns and increased the urgency to find a more sustainable solution."
Kriz said some of the people who have decided not to leave the camp include people who were already homeless before the fire struck, and volunteers are looking to find housing solutions for them as well.
City officials told BuzzFeed News they have received no request from Walmart to remove anyone from the store's parking lot.
California’s rich are protecting their homes with private firefighters, but officials say it’s making their jobs harder
LOS ANGELES — As flames from a ferocious wildfire fanned by hot Santa Ana winds licked at the multimillion-dollar home of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, a brigade of private firefighters was dispatched to protect the celebrity mansion and its treasures inside.
But fire officials say the team of private firefighters didn’t obtain permission from authorities to enter the threatened upscale neighborhood that had been placed under mandatory evacuation, breaking state guidelines and possibly putting other firefighters at risk to save the celebrity home.
Usually available through premium insurance policies, for-hire firefighters have been dispatched across the region to guard luxury homes from flames while the vast majority of the public is left hoping local firefighters will save their property.
For-hire crews are required to check in with incident commanders when responding to a major wildfire in California, and state guidelines prohibit them from stepping behind evacuation lines without permission. But the firefighting team that responded to the West home during the destructive Woolsey fire did neither when they were dispatched to the mansion Nov. 9, officials told BuzzFeed News.
“I didn’t have any private company check in that it was responding to a private residence,” Ventura County Fire Capt. Brian McGrath, speaking for the fire’s unified command, told BuzzFeed News. “They’re not supposed to be back there.”
81 people have died in Northern California’s Camp fire
The death toll in the Camp fire rose to 81 on Tuesday, while another 870 others were reported missing.
The increase in 171 additional people unaccounted for in the catastrophic wildfire was due to detectives working through a backlog of voicemails, the Butte County Sheriff's department said.
The fire, which had burned 152,250 acres, was 75% contained, and that number was expected to rise with rain forecast for Wednesday.
But the rain could also hamper efforts to find remains of fire victims, which were ongoing on Tuesday.
Around 4 inches of rain are expected through the Thanksgiving weekend in burn areas.
The wildfires are making California's housing crisis even worse
So many people from Paradise, California, who lost their homes to the deadly Camp fire are now desperate to find new places to live nearby. But realtors are quickly running out of options.
In the neighboring city of Chico, for example, all available rental units disappeared within a few days. And there’s a similar frenzy playing out in the housing market, where homes are repeatedly getting 15 or more offers and consistently selling above asking price. Five Chico realtors told BuzzFeed News they’ve never experienced this kind of high demand, and are scrambling to find displaced families some place, any place, to live.
“We’re out of rentals 100%. Our market for available properties for people to buy is dwindling to almost nothing,” Sarah Nielsen, a real estate agent in Chico for about 15 years, told BuzzFeed News. “Everyone’s panic-struck.”
California’s deadliest fire burned through the town of Paradise two weeks ago, quickly destroying more than 12,600 residences and claiming at least 79 lives.
The decimation of all these homes comes as California faces a years-long housing crisis.
Thinning forests won't stop California's most destructive wildfires
Some of the news photos from the devastation in Paradise, California, show a surprising scene: Green, living trees stand near homes that have been reduced to ashes.
They reveal that wildfire is a capricious enemy, but also indicate that there’s more to preventing catastrophic loss of lives and property than the prescriptions offered by the president of the United States — whose tweets and public statements suggest that what California needs to do is hoard water, cut down trees to prevent fires spreading, and get busy raking.
While thinning forests might work in some areas, studies indicate that it’s unlikely to be an effective remedy for California or the West as a whole — and it would have done little to curb the state’s recent fires.
Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke said the fires were due, in part, to "radical environmental groups"
In a phone call press conference with journalists on Tuesday, US Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke said that the wildfires that raged in California over the last month were due, in part, to lawsuits from "radical environmental groups."
“Radical environmental groups that would rather burn down the entire forest than cut a single tree or thin the forest,” Zinke said, adding that groups hindered appropriate forest management practices like forest thinning.
On Sunday, Zinke shared a similar statement when speaking to Breitbart.
"I will lay this on the foot of those environmental radicals that have prevented us from managing the forests for years. And you know what? This is on them," Zinke said, adding that this was not "the time for finger-pointing."
Animals rescued from the fires are being reunited with their owners — so finally there's some good news
Families are being reunited with their pets, after a veterinary school set up a Facebook page to help owners find their missing animals.
Among those reunited by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine were Laci Ping and her husband Curtis Mullins, who lost their cat Mayson, a gray tabby, in the chaos of the evacuation.
When the couple were forced to flee Paradise, California, Mayson escaped her carrier in the panic, and the couple thought they wouldn't see him again.
But as a massively shared Facebook video shows, the little kitty has now been reunited with his owners.
Other owners are still looking for their pets, many of whom have been taken in by shelters across the county. "The number of animals that need help right now is pretty overwhelming," UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine communications officer Trina Wood told BuzzFeed News.
—Michelle Broder Van Dyke
The death toll from the Camp fire has risen to 79, as 699 others remain unaccounted for
Authorities found two more bodies Monday in the small towns of Paradise and Magalia, raising the death toll in the devastating Camp fire to 79, Butte County Sheriff officials said.
The death toll has been steadily climbing as officials continue to search through Northern California towns, making the Camp fire the deadliest wildfire to ever strike the state.
Sixty-four of those confirmed fatalities have been identified.
Another 699 people reported missing remain unaccounted for, officials said.
As of Monday evening, 151,272 acres have been burned in the massive blaze, Cal Fire officials said in a statement. The fire was 70% contained.
An upcoming rain system may wash away victims' remains in the Camp fire burn area
After a catastrophic wildfire swept through a Northern California town and choked cities across the region with a massive plume of smoke, the first storm in more than a month is expected to bring desperately needed rainfall to the drought-starved area — and bring a new set of challenges and danger.
Starting Wednesday, the hot, dry weather that has plagued the state will finally break with the first significant winter storm. Moderate rainfall is expected in the area of the Camp fire, which by Monday had burned 151,000 acres and was 66% contained. Through Thanksgiving weekend, around an inch and a half of rain is expected to douse flames and clear the air.
"It'll help in containing the fire, but where there's barren ground, that's a concern," National Weather Service forecaster Johnnie Powell told BuzzFeed News.
In the burn areas, scorched earth is freshly stripped of vegetation that usually helps absorb water. Though rain is typical in the area this time of year, a storm hitting so soon after fire could cause flash floods or mud and debris flows.
Thousands of evacuees are desperately looking for housing
CHICO, California — The most deadly and destructive wildfire in California history has now created a massive housing emergency, with thousands left homeless and nowhere to go. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says officials are scrambling to find enough housing to meet the demand, but there are few options.
In two days, more than 12,000 households affected by the Camp fire registered for disaster assistance, Brad Pierce, who was part of FEMA’s team on the ground, told BuzzFeed News on Sunday. But that number is expected to climb, with about 1,000 people a day seeking help at the site inside an abandoned Sears in Chico.
Dozens of evacuees started lining up outside the building around 7 a.m. Friday in the chilly, smoke-filled air. Many were there two hours early, anxious to start the long, complex process of trying to reestablish themselves.
Like its victims, the Camp fire has flung FEMA into uncharted territory. For one thing, the scale of the disaster is massive. The fire reduced nearly all of Paradise, which has a population of 27,000; large chunks of surrounding towns have become ash in an area already in the crux of a housing shortage.
Another predicament is that inspectors cannot get into neighborhoods to view, assess, and then approve residents’ applications because authorities are still looking for bodies, and will be for some time.
“This is causing new complications for us,” Pierce said. “People who have applied are getting ineligible letters when they are eligible because we can’t get inspectors in there yet.”
The death toll from the Camp fire rose to 77, while the number of people unaccounted for dropped to 993
The remains of one additional victim from the Camp fire were found Sunday in the area of Butte Creek Canyon, bring the death toll from the blaze to 77, according to the Butte County Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's office said that of the 77 fatalities at least 67 had been tentatively identified.
The number of people unaccounted for also dropped by more than 200 on Sunday, bringing the total to 993.
Officials have previously warned that the list of unaccounted for likely includes duplicates and have asked the public to help them.
As of Sunday night, the Camp fire has burned 150,000 acres and is now 65% contained. Evacuation warnings are still in place for parts of the area.
California's Department of Water Resources also warned that rain is coming this week, and that mudflows and flash flooding are more likely near the burn area.
—Michelle Broder Van Dyke
People from Finland collectively said "Excuse me?" after Trump said the country rakes its forests to prevent fires
President Trump on Saturday said that Finland doesn't have an issue with fires because the people there “spend a lot of time on raking.”
The president made the comments while visiting the devastation in Paradise caused by the Camp fire in Northern California.
In response, the Finns collectively said, “Excuse me?”
PG&E said it experienced a second outage around the time the Camp fire broke out
Pacific Gas & Electric, the largest power company in Northern California, told state regulators Friday that it experienced a second outage on an electrical circuit around the time the deadly Camp fire broke out on Nov. 8.
In a preliminary report, PG&E said the outage occurred at 6:45 a.m. in Concow.
The utility company previously reported an outage on a transmission line at 6:15 a.m. near the town of Pulga, where the fire started 15 minutes later.
On Thursday, Cal Fire officials said they were investigating a possible second origin for the fire, which as of Saturday had killed at least 76 people and destroyed more than 12,000 structures, in the Concow area.
In a statement Friday, PG&E said emphasized that the report was preliminary and that the cause of the Camp fire still has not been determined.
"Cal Fire is the lead agency investigating the origin of the fire and PG&E continues to provide its full cooperation," the statement said.
The utility's power lines and equipment have been linked to previous wildfires in the state. Cal Fire investigators found that power lines and related equipment owned by PG&E started 16 fires in October 2017 alone.
—Stephanie K. Baer
76 people are now confirmed dead in the Camp fire as more than 1,200 remain unaccounted for
The remains of five additional victims were located in the Camp fire Saturday, bringing the total number of deaths in the blaze so far to 76.
Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory Honea said four of the victims were found inside structures in the town of Paradise and one was found outside in the Concow area.
Of the 76 victims, 63 have been tentatively identified.
Meanwhile, the list of those who are unaccounted for has grown to 1,276. Honea cautioned that the list, which is published on the sheriff's website, could contain duplicates, noting that a woman came forward Saturday, saying that her name appeared on the list twice.
"Please, folks, help us out by checking that list," Honea said. "If your name is on it and you're safe, contact us."
The fire has burned 149,000 acres and destroyed 12,794 structures since breaking out early Nov. 8. As of Saturday evening, it was 55% contained, officials said.
In Southern California, containment of the Woolsey fire rose to 84% Saturday, with officials expecting full containment by Monday. The fire, which also broke out on Nov. 8, has burned 98,362 acres, destroyed 1,008 structures, and killed three people.
—Stephanie K. Baer
Photos show unhealthy California air quality
Smoke from the two wildfires burning in California has drifted across the state, making the air hazardous to breathe.
Those in the state’s north have been particularly affected by the poor air quality, with health experts warning people in San Francisco to remain indoors on Friday.
With masks selling fast across the state, some residents have been forced to get creative as they try to shield themselves from the smoke.
View more photos here: These Photos Show How Terrible California’s Air Quality Is After The Wildfires
Trump toured the fire disaster zone in Northern California
President Donald Trump toured the devastated town of Paradise, California, on Saturday, and said the extent of the fires had been unpredictable — while dodging questions about climate change’s role in the fires.
“Nobody would have ever thought this could ever happen,” said Trump, standing in front of destroyed homes with California Gov. Jerry Brown and governor-elect Gavin Newsom.
When asked if future fires could be prevented, the president spoke about forest management — a topic he tweeted about last week.
“We do have to do management, maintenance. And we will be working also with environmental groups. I think everyone has seen the light, and I don’t think we will have this again to this extent,” he said.
Trump spoke of how the president of Finland told him theirs was a country with many forests, and that they regularly rake and clean the forest floors to cut down on debris.
“We have to take care of the floors of the forest, it is very important,” said Trump.
However, Finland also has a much colder climate than California. The Finnish Meteorological Institute classifies a heat wave as consecutive days when the temperature is over 77 degrees, which can be a standard temperature in California for much of the year.
“Hopefully, this will be the last of these, because this was a really, really bad one,” said Trump.
Trump then visited a command center, where he was specifically asked by a reporter if he thought climate change played a role in the California fires.
“I think you have a lot of factors,” said the president, who then again spoke about forest management and maintenance.
The reporter continued: “Does the devastation change your opinion on climate change at all, Mr. President?”
“No, no. I have a strong opinion. I want great climate, and we’re going to have that,” said Trump.
Brown then chimed in to say that there were a number of elements to be considered over the next few months “to understand the threat of fires, the whole matter of drought, and all of the rest of it,” adding that he’d continue to discuss them with the president.
“It is not one thing, it is a lot of things, and I think if we open our minds and look at things, we’ll get more stuff done,” said the governor.
These photos show what it’s like to live in a Walmart parking lot after fleeing the Camp fire
Almost athousand people have had to make a Walmart parking lot their home in Chico, California, as a result of the catastrophic Camp fire in Northern California. Many fled with just the clothes on their back, and most have no home to return to in the wake of the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.
To make matters worse, some of the shelters for evacuees are experiencing an outbreak of norovirus, a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus. These photos show the limited facilities on offer for families left sitting in the still-smoky air, trying to figure out what comes next.
For the first time, fire officials are using rapid DNA to try and identify bodies
As the search for residents lengthens and intensifies beyond anything in California’s history, fire officials have taken the unprecedented move of using a rapid DNA machine to help identify and connect victims with their anxious family members.
After announcing another spike in missing people and those found dead in their charred homes, authorities announced that they would be utilizing DNA testing to try and narrow down the ballooning list of missing names. As of Friday, officials have cleared 329 of 1,011 reports of unaccounted people.
“It is my sincere hope that we identify everybody who is missing and identify any remains,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. “But that is the nature of this tragedy. ... This is a massive, massive undertaking.”
Officials are asking people who cannot find loved ones to come to the Sears in Chico and submit a cheek swab, enabling them to match it to missing people in about two hours. They promised that their data will only be used for this incident and not put into any type of national database.
Only 17 DNA samples have been processed, officials said, though they hope to increase the number. —Brianna Sacks
After surviving California’s deadliest wildfire, evacuees are now being infected with a virus at shelters
CHICO, California — After evacuating the catastrophic Camp fire in Northern California, at least 145 people in four shelters have been sickened with norovirus, a gastrointestinal illness that causes intense diarrhea and vomiting, officials said.
At least 25 people who were sickened with the virus have received treatment at hospitals. The outbreak has also included staff members at the shelters.
—Theresa Tamkins and Brianna Sacks
More than 1,000 people have been reported missing in the Camp fire
Law enforcement officials continued to scramble on Friday to account for 1,011 people reported missing in the aftermath of the Camp fire.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea cautioned that the list was raw data, compiled from the frenzied 911 calls at the outbreak of the fire, as well as emails and other calls to a missing persons hotline. He said he was releasing the preliminary names — which could include duplicates or false alarms — to try to speed the process of identifying the fire’s victims.
“I cant let perfection get in the way of progress,” he said.
The number of victims continued to rise on Friday as search and recovery teams worked for a fifth day. Eight more people were determined on Friday to have died, seven in Paradise and one in the nearby town of Magalia. All of the victims were found inside structures.
That brings the death toll to 71, far surpassing other deadly California wildfires.
And the Camp fire continued to burn on Friday with 50% containment. Firefighters expected to face challenges over the weekend with a new red flag warning in effect. Forecasters expect wind gusts of 45–50 mph, particularly at ridge tops. Paired with dry conditions, that could set firefighters back as they work to control the blaze.
But relief may be in sight: Up to an inch of rain is forecast for Wednesday night.
People in California are getting creative as smoke-filled air chokes entire regions
Two giant wildfires are scorching California right now, killing dozens and forcing entire cities to evacuate. But people not in the direct path of flames aren’t free from danger: Smoke from the fires has made the air hazardous to breathe in many areas, particularly in Northern California.
With the Bay Area Air Quality Management District warning that the conditions could last until at least Tuesday, authorities have recommended people wear masks if they go outside, although many stores were sold out.
But fear not: People have found creative ways to deal with the situation, from entrepreneurial side gigs and DIY air filters to fundraisers and donation campaigns.
Trump says California wildfires are mainly due to "management" and not climate change
President Trump spoke to Fox News ahead of his Saturday trip to the scene of a catastrophic Northern California wildfire, marveling at the number of victims and blaming state officials for poor forest management.
"I was watching the firemen the other day and they were raking areas, they were raking areas where the fire was right over there and they’re raking trees, little trees like this that are not trees, little bushes that you could see are totally dry. Weeds and they’re raking them, they’re on fire. That should have been all raked out," Trump said. "You wouldn’t have the fires."
Forest management plays just one role in preventing explosive, deadly wildfires, which have increasingly swept through California because of development and climate change. California Gov Jerry Brown, scientists, and firefighters have said extreme hot, dry weather over years has made the state ripe for wildfires; in response, experts have said the state will need to change how and where homes are built in fire-prone areas, improve evacuation plans, and also do more forest management.
In the interview with Chris Wallace, set to air on Fox News Sunday, Trump was asked if he believed that climate change was making wildfires worse.
"Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management," he replied.
Data from Cal Fire has shown that wildfires have become larger in recent years — exactly what scientists would expect to see with climate change — and warming weather is increasing the severity of wildfires across the western US.
Trump added he was looking forward to meeting firefighters, who are dealing with unprecedented destruction and death in the Camp fire.
"Nobody’s ever seen what’s going on over there and now they’re saying it could be as many as 600, this just came out before we met, could be as many as 600 people killed, up by 400, it’s incredible what’s going on," Trump said. "And burned beyond recognition, they can’t even see the bodies, it’s incredible."
Nothing can prepare the people who have to search for charred bodies after the California wildfires
PARADISE, California — There’s really no training that could prepare you for this, searching by hand through the ashy shreds of a person’s life, looking for tiny bits of their body, over and over and over again.
Snaking through the scorched ghost that was Paradise, crews of search and rescue vehicles drove slowly by mailboxes marking where homes used to be, shells of cars, and rolling blackened hills.
The Hill fire in Southern California is now 100% contained
The Hill fire, which broke out last Thursday in Southern California just hours after a mass shooting left 12 dead at a nearby bar, is now 100% contained, officials said Friday.
The fire, which was sparked near Thousand Oaks, burned 4,531 acres and destroyed four structures.
Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the Hill fire, but they have ruled out all potential causes other than human activity, according to a Cal Fire statement.
Meanwhile, the nearby and much larger Woolsey fire had burned 98,362 acres and was 69% contained as of Friday morning. The cause of the fire is also still under investigation.
—Stephanie K. Baer
63 people are confirmed dead in the Camp fire as the number missing soars to more than 600
One week after the Camp fire broke out in Northern California, officials said the remains of seven more victims had been located Thursday, bringing the death toll from the devastating blaze to 63 as the number of people unaccounted for soared to more than 600.
Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory Honea said three of the victims were located in the town of Magalia, three were found in Paradise, and one victim was located in the Concow area. Four of the victims were found inside structures, two were outside structures, and one was in a vehicle.
Of the 63 victims, 53 have been tentatively identified.
As of Thursday, exactly one week since the fire broke out, 631 remain unaccounted for, Honea said.
The sheriff encouraged people to check the department's list of those who have not yet been found and contact the department if their name or the name of a loved one is on the list.
"There are a lot of people displaced and we're finding that a lot of people don't know that we’re looking for them," Honea said.
Since it was sparked last Thursday, the fire has burned 141,000 acres and destroyed a total of 11,862 structures, officials said. It was 40% contained.
State and federal officials planned to open a disaster recovery center Friday at the former Sears store at the Chico Mall, where fire evacuees can register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance.
—Stephanie K. Baer
More than 140 people have been sickened by norovirus at Camp fire shelters
More than 140 people have fallen ill in a norovirus outbreak at multiple shelters for people displaced by the Camp fire, health officials said Thursday.
The Butte County Public Health Department said that 145 people, including staff, have gotten sick since the shelters opened last week.
Norovirus, also known as the "winter stomach bug," is a highly contagious viral infection that causes diarrhea and vomiting. It spreads through contaminated water or food, or contact with contaminated people and surfaces.
As of Wednesday evening, 41 people were experiencing symptoms at four different shelters in Chico, Gridley, and Oroville, the health department said. Twenty-five people have been transported to the hospital for medical support.
"The number of sick people is increasing every day," the department added.
Most people who get sick experience symptoms for one to three days, but they can continue to be contagious for at least 48 hours after symptoms go away, according to the health department.
Butte County Public Health Officer Andy Miller said in a statement that the virus had already been spreading in the community before the fire broke out.
The department urged people to practice proper hand hygiene and to not prepare food or drinks for others if they are sick.
—Stephanie K. Baer
People in Southern California are returning home after mass fire evacuations
Southern California residents are returning to their neighborhoods after more than 200,000 evacuated during the Woolsey and Hill fires last week.
An estimate for the number of people now allowed to return to evacuated areas was not immediately available.
As people returned home, officials asked them continue to be vigilant of fire conditions and follow instructions from emergency responders. Officials also asked residents to drive slow and watch out for firefighters and emergency vehicles.
Downed power poles, broken gas lines, and roadway debris will also continue to be a challenge for returning residents. An estimated 504 homes were destroyed in the fire.
Schools across Northern California are closing due to unhealthy air quality caused by wildfire smoke
Schools across Northern California will be closed Friday due to bad air quality caused by smoke from the Camp fire.
The fire is burning more than 100 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area, but smoke from the deadly blaze has been lingering over cities across the region for days. So far 56 people are confirmed dead in the fire, which has destroyed more than 10,000 structures and scorched 140,000 acres.
On Thursday, district officials for schools in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Livermore, Sacramento, Elk Grove, Rocklin and other cities announced schools will be closed Friday due to unsafe air quality.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health is recommending that everyone stay indoors after the city's air quality readings worsened Thursday, moving from the "unhealthy" range to the "very unhealthy."
By the afternoon, levels of PM2.5 — airborne particles less than 2.5 micrometers across that can cause lung and heart disease — were estimated at greater than 150, "unhealthy," for much of the region and above 200, "very unhealthy," in some areas, according to data from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
In and around Sacramento, PM2.5 levels were estimated above 300, creating "hazardous" air quality conditions.
The Bay Area district has issued an air quality advisory through Tuesday for the region.
—Stephanie K. Baer
This before-and-after image of California shows the vast destruction of the fire
The first satellite image above shows Paradise Pines, California, before the fire in September, while the second photo of the same area uses shortwave infrared satellite imagery to penetrate smoke and reveal how the fire looked on Nov. 9, while the blaze was torching the town.
This satellite photo shows the billowing smoke that rose above the Camp fire in Paradise, California, on Nov. 9.
—Michelle Broder Van Dyke
Trump will visit California on Saturday to meet with those impacted by the wildfires
President Donald Trump will visit California on Saturday to meet with those impacted by the state's destructive and deadly wildfires, the White House said Thursday.
Trump's visit will come more than a week after the Woolsey, Hill, and Camp fires broke out and after he sent an inaccurate tweet blaming the state's forest management for the fires.
Collectively, the fires have burned more than 200,000 acres, have destroyed upward of 10,800 structures, and have killed at least 59 people.
Hundreds of people remain missing in the Butte County area as firefighters continue to battle the deadly blaze.
—Stephanie K. Baer
More than 300 people are missing in the deadly Camp fire
More than 300 people are now listed as missing in the deadly Camp fire, according to the Butte County Sheriff's Office, which published a list of those who have yet to be found late Wednesday night.
The number is more than double from the 130 people listed Wednesday morning. The total grew rapidly as more names were reported to authorities.
Fire officials previously told BuzzFeed News that 200 people initially listed as missing had been found. However, the death toll, now at 56, could grow to more than 100 victims as officials scour the charred landscape.
The Camp fire is already the deadliest in California history. It's also the most destructive, having burned 10,300 structures.
Surrounded by flames, some people jumped into a lake to escape the Camp fire
Plowing through entire communities and leaving dozens of people dead in its path, the massive blaze known as the Camp fire spread too quickly for many to escape its devastating wrath.
For some, the only escape from the flames was in the frigid waters of a lake. In a last-ditch bid for survival, at least a dozen people jumped into a reservoir in Concow, a rural community outside of Paradise.
Peggy Moak, whose home sits near the reservoir, told BuzzFeed News four people who jumped into the lake to escape the fire were rescued by her brother-in-law and a friend after they spent hours in the chilly water.
“They were trying to escape the fire coming through and, because they knew it came from the roadside, they couldn’t get out,” she said. “They thought the lake was the best option for surviving.”
These nurses kept helping people after narrowly escaping California's deadliest wildfire
As flames from a fast-moving wildfire closed in on town, Allyn Pierce and his staff at the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital knew they had to get all of their patients out.
Pierce, a nurse at the hospital, had just received a text message from his wife warning of the blaze when he went outside to see smoke looming over the facility from miles away. He knew there wasn’t much time before the flames would reach the medical center and its many patients.
Over the next 20 minutes, Pierce and the hospital staff sprang into action, evacuating all of the sick and injured patients inside before the Camp fire could devour the facility.
On the road, fleeing the blaze with a caravan of other vehicles escaping the hospital, Pierce quickly found himself on a narrow forest road and surrounded by flames in a bottleneck of vehicles trying to get out of the fire’s way.
As the flames closed in on his white pickup truck, he could see his side mirror beginning to melt.
“I was just thinking, I’m going to die in melting plastic,” Pierce told BuzzFeed News.
56 people have died in the Camp fire, and 130 are still missing
The remains of eight additional victims of the Camp fire were found in Paradise on Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to 56.
But fire officials told BuzzFeed News that number could grow to more than 100 victims. As of Wednesday, almost a week after fire struck the mountain town, 130 people remain unaccounted for, Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory Honea said.
His department has enlisted law enforcement personnel from around the state to work phones and investigate missing persons reports, he added. So far, around 200 people initially reported missing have been found.
Of the 56 people found dead, 47 have been tentatively identified, he added. The department is waiting on DNA samples from relatives to confirm identities.
Search and recovery efforts ramped up on Wednesday with 22 cadaver dogs as well as members of the California National Guard. A total of 461 people are now involved in canvassing Paradise for victims, who may have been reduced to bones by the blaze.
Honea would not estimate how long the search would take; it was more important to get it right, he said.
"We’re moving as fast as we can, and it’ll take as long as it takes," he said.
Apart from the lives lost in the fire, more than 10,000 structures were destroyed. That's roughly double of last year's Tubbs fire in Sonoma and Napa counties, which previously held the state's record for most destructive wildfire.
Families who lost their homes in the Camp fire are now living in a Walmart parking lot, unsure of where to go next
Pam Denna and her husband thought they would be able to go home when they hitched a ride with friends Thursday morning to escape the Camp fire as it tore through the town of Paradise in Northern California.
Now, they're stranded in nearby Chico with no vehicle and no home to return to, sleeping in a tent in the parking lot of a Walmart with hundreds of other evacuees displaced by the most destructive and deadliest fire in the state's history.
"If somebody told me that 'In five years you’re going to be living in Walmart parking lot,' I wouldn't have believed them," Denna told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday. "It's unreal."
—Stephanie K. Baer
A norovirus outbreak has sickened Camp fire evacuees at a shelter in Chico
Officials are trying to contain an outbreak of norovirus at one of the shelters housing people displaced by the Camp fire in Northern California.
According to the Butte County Public Health Department, 21 of 179 evacuees have been sickened by the norovirus at the Neighborhood Church shelter in Chico.
"Norovirus is not uncommon, especially this time of year, and it's especially not uncommon for a shelter situation where you have hundreds of people living in very close quarters," health department spokesperson Lisa Almaguer said at a news conference.
She added that people who are ill have been taken to a separate location at the shelter and are being cared for by public health nurses.
Norovirus, also known as the "winter stomach bug," is a highly contagious viral infection that causes diarrhea and vomiting. It spreads through contaminated water or food, or contact with contaminated people and surfaces.
—Stephanie K. Baer
The Camp fire was faster, more powerful than anyone expected, fire chief says
The Camp fire swept through Paradise in Northern California with unprecedented speed and power, and without local emergency planning, more people would have died, the town's fire chief told BuzzFeed News.
David Hawks, Paradise fire chief and a Cal Fire division chief, said firefighters had prepared for the flames to flank the foothill city, but extreme winds, plus plenty of dry fuel, caught everyone off guard.
"I don't think any of the fire professionals believed that a fire would sweep through the city in its entirely that fast," he told BuzzFeed News.
In the days since the fire, Butte County officials said there wasn't time to send a wireless emergency alert (WEA) to catch all cellphones in the area. Hawks added that though the WEA system is effective, he's not sure it would have made any difference in this case.
"The movement in this fire was unprecedented," he added. "Few in the state's history have rivaled this fire in its power and speed."
And he believed Paradise's evacuation plan, first instated in 1999 and updated last year, made a difference where it could be followed.
"I'm confident that if it hadn't been for the plan and the fact we implemented the plan, far more people would have died," he said. "I know that sounds terrible since we are still looking for people, and 48 people are dead, but I'm confident that the plan saved a lot of lives."
On Wednesday, members of the California Army National Guard joined the search efforts for human remains in Paradise. More than 100 people remain unaccounted for since the fire struck last week.
—Claudia Koerner and Brianna Sacks
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the fires are "worse than any war zone [he] saw in Iraq"
After touring the charred remains of California's most destructive wildfire in history, officials painted a grim picture of the devastation and warned of a long road to recovery, even as the state continued to burn.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called the Camp fire, which practically destroyed the town of Paradise in Northern California, "worse than any war zone [he] saw in Iraq."
California Gov. Jerry Brown echoed Zinke's assessment, saying he barely had the words to describe the destruction.
"It’s so devastating, I don’t even have the words," he told reporters at a media briefing. "It looks like a war zone — and it is."
The Camp fire in the north and the Woolsey fire in Southern California have so far scorched more than 200,000 acres. The Camp fire has killed 48 people and burned 8,800 structures, making it the most deadly and destructive in the state's history.
"This is going to be a very long and frustrating event for the citizens of Paradise, but we all have to work together to find a new normal," Long said.
Paradise, California, was ill-prepared for the power of the deadly Camp fire
For California fire officials, the question has never been whether a wildfire would hit the town of Paradise, it was just a matter of when.
Years before the Camp fire tore through the rural retirement community, becoming the most devastating wildfire in state history, state and local officials had known Paradise faced a serious threat from fires. According to historical fire maps, most of Butte County has burned at some point in the last century, including in a major blaze that burned several homes near Paradise in 2008. But the town itself had somehow remained untouched until last week, and locals and firefighters had long been bracing for an inevitable disaster.
“Years and years and years ago we knew we had a problem with that community,” Thom Porter, a chief with Cal Fire, told BuzzFeed News Tuesday, citing the lack of roads in and out of the mountain town of 26,000.
A third death has been linked to the Woolsey fire in Los Angeles County
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said detectives were investigating an apparent Woolsey fire–related death of a person in Agoura Hills on Wednesday.
Two other deaths have been linked to the Woolsey fire, which hit Malibu and surrounding areas particularly hard.
The Woolsey fire had burned through 97,620 acres and was 47% contained as of Wednesday morning. It has also destroyed 483 structures in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Butte County officials have posted the names of dozens of people who are still missing in the deadly Camp fire
The Butte County Sheriff's Office posted the names of dozens of more than 100 people still missing in the Camp fire, which so far has killed 48 people and destroyed 6,700 structures in Northern California. It's the deadliest fire in the state's history.
Most of the people on the list live in Paradise, California, the town hit hardest by the fire, according to the sheriff's office. Many of them are over 70 years old. Others on the list live in the nearby town of Magalia.
In Southern California, more than 200,000 residents were ordered to flee their homes as the Woolsey and Hill fires tore through the area around Thousand Oaks, less than 24 hours after a mass shooting at a local bar. The entire city of Malibu was also ordered to evacuate.
Six more people have been found dead in Northern California's Camp fire
Six more people were found dead Tuesday in connection with Northern California's Camp fire, bringing the death toll to 48 in what was already the deadliest wildfire in state history.
All of the victims found Tuesday were discovered inside homes in Paradise, a town of nearly 27,000 that was almost completely destroyed by the blaze.
Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory Honea said search teams, aided by DNA specialists and anthropologists, were working to find and identify all of the victims of the fire. Meanwhile, the sheriff's department is continuing efforts to account for people reported missing in the disaster. The county has requested 100 National Guard troops to assist in the search efforts.
It's possible the hunt for victims will continue after evacuation orders are lifted, Honea said, asking that anyone who finds human remains immediately contact the sheriff's department.
"That’s the difficult situation that we find ourselves in today," he said.
Officials say no radiation has been released from the site of a partial nuclear meltdown caught in a wildfire
Public health officials on Tuesday said the site of a 1959 partial nuclear meltdown that was partially burned by the Woolsey fire was not releasing any radiation after conducting testing in the area.
In a statement, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department said its investigation into the Santa Susana Field Laboratory had found “no discernible level of radiation” in the area.
Other agencies, including the Department of Toxic Substances Control, performed tests and got similar results, officials said.
Santa Susana in Ventura County experienced a partial nuclear meltdown while serving as a rocket engine testing facility for Rocketdyne/Atomics International. The Woolsey fire burned part of its 2,850-acre site, prompting fears among activists that radiation had been released.
“We’ve always worried about a fire at SSFL. SSFL could have and should have been cleaned up a long time ago,” Marie Mason, cofounder of the Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition, told USA Today on Monday.
Melissa Bumstead, another activist, said the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) can’t be trusted.
“DTSC repeatedly minimizes risk from [Santa Susana Field Laboratory] and has broken every promise it ever made about the SSFL cleanup.”
The LA Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
Malibu residents are using yachts, surfboards, and paddleboards to bring in supplies
In the most quintessentially Malibu way, residents left stranded by the destructive Woolsey fire have created a system to surf and boat in food, water, gas, and other supplies to those who stayed behind to save their homes.
Residents have been hemmed in due to police blockades and road closures as officials try to get a handle on the massive blaze.
“We’ve been distributing to individuals if they give us addresses, there are a handful of elderly neighbors who stayed,” said Jennifer Sol, who lives in Malibu and whose brother and husband have been making multiple trips by surfboard. “We started connecting people and it turned into a drop off point for boats with just my family and a couple friends to get it from boat to shore. We are running a much smaller operation but managed to get 5 boats over the last two days.”
The operation started Sunday, three days after the Woolsey fire ravaged large chunks of Malibu and cut off water and power to some neighborhoods. Residents said they have continued to stay because erratic winds keep sparking spot fires on abandoned lawns and in dry, overgrown brush.
Lori Gray, whose husband has been running around with several of their neighbors putting out flare-ups, said the small team has helped protect many homes, including their own.
“There have barely been any fire trucks up on these roads because they are hard to access,” she said. “They are literally saving our homes. Yes, they’re defying orders, but without them the loss/toll would be much greater.”
About 83% of national park land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has been destroyed
Fire officials have reported that flames from the Woolsey fire have destroyed more than 127,800 acres, about 83% of national park land in the Santa Monica Mountains — which starts in Hollywood and stretches far about 50 miles across Los Angeles and western neighboring cities to the edge of Ventura County.
The cherished parks were home to miles of hiking and running trails, as well as cultural and historic landmarks, such as the Reagan Ranch, once owned by President Ronald Reagan; the set of the TV series MASH, and the Peter Strauss Ranch, which had hosted art exhibits and performances by country stars Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.
After sweeping through the Thousand Oaks area, the Woolsey fire leaped across US Highway 101, rapidly consuming the dry brush in canyons and gulches of the Santa Monica Mountains on its way to Malibu.
President Trump had lashed out at California officials for “mismanaging” forests, contributing to the deadly blazes ravaging the state. However, the federal government actually operates a bulk of California’s parklands, including much of the area destroyed in the Woolsey fire.
A map below shows the area destroyed by the blaze.
Drone footage shows the destruction in Paradise
A Sacramento Bee video offers the first bird’s-eye view of how devastating the Camp fire was in the town of Paradise in Northern California.
The video, captured by drone, was posted on Tuesday. At least 42 people were killed in the wind-driven fire, which roared through the town last week. Fire officials have said at least 80% of buildings were destroyed in Paradise, which is home to about 26,000 people.
Wildfire destroyed a beloved Jewish summer camp, but leaders are vowing to rebuild
MALIBU — Bryna Nevison walked around the few remaining walls of the old Jewish camp, pulling off as many photos and artifacts as she could carry, in case the fire came back.
She still hadn’t fully grasped that the Woolsey fire, which tore through Malibu and the surrounding region over the weekend, destroying hundreds of structures and nearly 97,000 acres, had nearly obliterated Camp Hess Kramer and its sister, Camp Hilltop.
More than 40,000 youth from across the US have spent their summers at the camp, eating chef Don’s famous grilled cheese, belting songs, scaling rock climbing walls, and dressing in white Friday to celebrate Shabbat near the Pacific Ocean.
Among the memories and grief-tinged social media posts and phone calls were declarations of resilience and promises to rebuild.
“We will be together this summer. There will be camp. Then, we will rebuild. Hess Kramer and Hilltop will endure,” camp leaders wrote in a Facebook post Sunday, reminding their community that they are no stranger to strife.
This man narrowly escaped California’s deadliest wildfire. He returned to find unimaginable horror.
The Camp fire in Northern California roared through the town of Paradise on Thursday, destroying nearly everything in its path and killing at least 42 people — in some cases, leaving behind only blackened fragments of skeletal remains.
At just 30% containment as of Monday night, the wildfire is already the deadliest in California history. But the numbers alone fail to fully illustrate the horror and devastation experienced by the victims of the fire.
“I’m in shock,” Paradise local Greg Woodcox told BuzzFeed News, struggling to speak after his exposure to smoke. “I hurt so bad. I haven’t really slept in four days.”
Woodcox had been attempting to help a friend with paraplegia and the friend's elderly mother escape the rapidly approaching fire Thursday when the friend's car was overcome. Woodcox shared a video of the deadly scene and then sent it to his nephew to post online in the hopes that the footage would raise awareness about the need to evacuate quickly from the fast-moving fires.
The video has since been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube, drawing some criticism locally for its graphic content. But around the state, fire officials have struggled to get the message to the public: be alert, be ready, and when evacuation orders come, get out.
“If it saves one person’s life, then I think we did our job,” Woodcox's nephew, Matthew Strausbaugh, told BuzzFeed News, adding that he had carefully weighed the ethics of posting the footage. “He wants the story to get out for the same reason.”
California power companies reported outages just minutes before the deadly wildfires began
LOS ANGELES — California regulatory authorities are investigating if the state’s largest utility providers were in compliance after the companies reported failures in their electrical equipment just moments before deadly fires erupted last week in Northern and Southern California.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is still investigating the cause of the disaster but the self-reported outages correspond very closely to the time and location of both the Camp and Woolsey fires that have ravaged the state over the last week.
The death toll from the Camp fire has soared to 42, making it the deadliest in California history
The death toll in the Camp fire in Northern California has risen to 42, officials said Monday night, making it the deadliest wildfire in California history.
"This is an unprecedented event," Butte County Sheriff Kory L. Honea said during a press conference.
The wildfire has scorched about 117,000 acres since it was sparked five days ago, destroying entire communities in its path. With more than 6,700 structures burned, the catastrophic fire had already become the state's most destructive on record.
About 30% of the fire was contained as of Monday evening.
During the press conference Monday night, Honea said an additional 13 bodies had been found, bringing the death toll to 42 so far.
Prior to the Camp fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history had been the 1933 Griffith Park fire, which killed 29 people, according to Cal Fire.
Although authorities have been able to locate 231 people who had been reported missing, there were signs that officials expected the soaring death toll to continue rising.
Local officials were requesting cadaver dogs to assist in the search for human remains, Honea said, and officials were also expecting two portable morgue units to arrive in the county Tuesday.
"I want to recover as many remains as we possibly can as soon as we can because I understand the toll that it takes on people, not knowing what became of their loved ones," he said.
President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for California, reversing his previous threat to withhold federal funding
President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for California on Monday evening, reversing on his threat over the weekend to withhold federal assistance over what he said was "mismanagement of the forests."
The declaration would help California obtain federal funds as it continues to fight three major wildfires across the state, scorching nearly 200,000 acres and forcing more than 272,000 people to flee their homes.
"Wanted to respond quickly in order to alleviate some of the incredible suffering going on," Trump tweeted.
But the president's initial public response to the devastating fires that have killed at least 29 people was to criticize the management of forests by the state and threaten to withhold money.
This is the second time this year Trump has attacked California while officials are battling destructive wildfires. In August, Trump accused the state of diverting water to the ocean, a claim that left fire experts and scientists scratching their heads.
Trump later commended firefighters and first responders battling the flames, and encouraged people to follow evacuation orders, but continued blasting California officials via Twitter, claiming that "proper Fire Management" could stop the fires.
"Get Smart!" he tweeted.
Brian Rice, the president of California Professional Firefighters, the largest firefighters' union in the state, pushed back on Trump's tweet, calling it "ill-timed" and "demeaning" to those on the front lines.
It's unclear exactly what the president was referring to regarding "management" of the forests.
According to the University of California Cooperative Extension, an organization of university and local academics that studies the state's forests, 57% of the forests in the state are managed by the federal government. State and local agencies own about 3%. A large bulk of the forests, about 40%, are privately owned.
Six more people have been found dead in the wildfires, bringing the total to 31
Remains of six more people were found on Sunday in Northern California’s Camp fire, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said.
That brings the death toll of that blaze to 29, tying the state record for deadliest fire. Five of them were in homes and one was in a vehicle, Honea said.
That number could rise as coroner search and recovery teams continue to respond to properties around the city of Paradise, which was leveled by the fire, and surrounding rural areas. Officials are looking for 228 people who have been reported missing, though Honea said it’s likely most of them are safe in shelters.
So far, 107 other people reported missing have been accounted for, Honea said. The sheriff’s department is opening up new hotlines dedicated to helping people find missing friends and family.
Identifying those killed by the fire could be complicated, and already two specialized anthropology teams are working in the area. Honea added DNA may be necessary, and samples will be administered through a Department of Justice lab.
In Southern California, the death toll remained at two people as of Sunday. Across the state, officials urged residents to stay alert and heed evacuation orders for their safety. —Claudia Koerner
Dozens of firefighters have lost their homes in the wildfires
At least 39 firefighters have lost their homes in the destruction caused by two massive wildfires, the Associated Press reported.
Firefighters have been working around the clock in California, seeking to contain fires that are threatening thousands of homes. At least 39 firefighters, and possibly dozens more, will return to find their own homes destroyed, International Association of Fire Fighters state service representative Tim Aboudara told the AP on Sunday.
Most of them live around the city of Paradise, which was leveled by the Camp fire — the most destructive wildfire in the state's history. Several firefighters also lost their homes in Southern California's Woolsey fire.
After a lull, winds with gusts up to 60 mph have returned, and are expected to continue until Tuesday
Officials have asked residents near the Woolsey fire to remain cautious and heed evacuation warnings as Santa Ana winds are expected to pick up on Sunday and remain in the area through Tuesday.
"Everyone here, all state, federal, and local agencies, are doing everything they can to deal with these fires," Cal Fire Chief Scott Jalbert said at a press conference on Sunday morning. "Sadly, with these winds, it's not over yet."
A combination of high winds and low humidity will make the already fast-moving blaze that much more difficult to contain. According to the latest estimate, the Woolsey fire has burned 83,275 acres and is only 10% contained.
On Sunday, the National Weather Service issued a "Red Flag" warning.
"A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours," according to Cal Fire.
The Woolsey fire has grown to 83,275 acres and has destroyed 177 structures
The Woolsey fire in Southern California has grown to 83,275 acres, has destroyed 177 structures, and has damaged two other structures, officials said Saturday night.
The fire, which tore through the Thousand Oaks and Malibu areas, was 5% contained and was threatening 57,000 structures, according to a Cal Fire statement.
Evacuation orders remained in place for much of the affected area. Officials in Simi Valley, however, lifted evacuation orders for some areas in the city.
The nearby Hill fire has burned 4,531 acres and was 65% contained as of Saturday night.
—Stephanie K. Baer
An additional 14 fatalities have been linked to the Camp fire, bringing the death toll across the state to 25
Officials in Northern California said they found an additional 14 bodies in the Camp fire area Saturday, bringing the total number of fire-related fatalities across the state to 25.
Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory Honea said four bodies were located in the Concow area and 10 were located in the town of Paradise, which was completely destroyed by the blaze.
As of Saturday, a total of 23 deaths had been linked to the Camp fire and two deaths were connected to the Woolsey fire in Southern California.
Honea said officials are doing what they can to identify the remains, adding that family members who have reported people missing will be allowed to submit DNA samples to see if there are any matches with the deceased.
The sheriff's office has received around 508 reports of missing persons and that as of Saturday evening only 110 of those reports were pending, Honea said, adding that some of those calls were duplicate.
The fire has grown to 105,000 acres and was 20% contained, Cal Fire spokesperson Steve Kaufmann said. More than 4,000 firefighters were assigned to the blaze.
Around 52,000 remained evacuated from there homes, Kaufmann said.
A red flag warning will be in effect starting at 10 p.m. and through 7 a.m. Monday, Alex Hoon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said.
Hoon said forecasters are expecting strong winds gusting up to 50 mph at higher elevations and 30 mph at lower elevations.
"These very strong winds combined with very dry conditions are going to create those critical conditions for firefighters," he said.
—Stephanie K. Baer
Firefighters get some containment on the Woolsey fire as they prepare for another strong wind event
Firefighters made some progress Saturday on the Woolsey fire as they prepared for another strong wind event.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said the fire that tore through the Thousand Oaks and Malibu areas was holding at 70,000 acres and was 5% contained as of Saturday night.
"We've had some successes," Osby told reporters during a press conference, adding that crews that have been working on the fire lines for the last 48 hours have been able to get some rest. "They'll be fresh for tomorrow."
After a brief reprieve, strong winds are expected to return to the region Sunday and another red flag warning has been issued for parts of California through Sunday afternoon.
"We know Mother Nature is going to turn her fans back on and the winds are going to start blowing," Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. "Don't let your guard down. The need for evacuations is still present and the need tomorrow is likely going to be higher."
Meanwhile in Ventura County, officials lifted mandatory evacuation orders for some areas affected by the smaller Hill fire, including Camarillo Springs and California State University, Channel Islands.
—Stephanie K. Baer
The Woolsey fire has now been linked to two deaths in Malibu
Officials have confirmed the first fatalities from the Woolsey fire in Malibu.
Los Angeles County Coroner Lt. David Smith told BuzzFeed News Saturday afternoon that the deaths of two people whose bodies were found in Decker Canyon were fire-related.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Chief John Benedict told reporters during a press conference that the two individuals had severe burns and were found in a stopped vehicle on a long residential driveway.
No additional information was immediately available.
—Stephanie K. Baer
With firefighters overwhelmed, Malibu residents feel abandoned and fight to save their own homes
MALIBU — Walking his 17-year-old Australian shepherd, Kayla, on Saturday, Malibu resident Jimmy Johns marveled at the ingenuity shown by him and his neighbors the day before.
Together, they had used milk cartons, buckets, and whatever else was lying around to scoop water from their condominium complex's jacuzzi to douse their lawns and steps in a desperate bid save their homes.
The Woolsey Fire had moved so swiftly over the dry, brush-covered canyons and mountains separating Malibu and Thousand Oaks that firefighters were left scrambling to keep up with the sheer number of houses burning.
"[Firefighters] would drive by, douse us, and move on to the next because they were working so hard and fast to save other homes, so I understand why they were scarce with water," Johns said. "They did what they could. I'm grateful."
Johns was one of more than half a dozen residents from Malibu neighborhoods who told BuzzFeed News of the creative and chaotic efforts they used to try to protect their homes as firefighters were stretched thin.
Camp fire grows in size again, as two more bodies are found near Woolsey fire
Already the most destructive blaze in California history, the Camp fire grew in size to 100,000 acres overnight, officials said in a Saturday morning update.
That’s up from 90,000 acres burned on Friday night, although the number of structures destroyed remains the same at 6,713.
However, the fire is now 20% contained, up from 5%.
Cal Fire warned that strong winds are expected to return on Saturday evening to the area, which is still plagued by low relative humidities and dry fuel moistures.
Down south, the Woolsey fire has now burned 70,000 acres in and around Malibu.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Grace Medrano told BuzzFeed News that the bodies of two people were found in Decker Canyon.
Authorities have not yet confirmed if the deaths were fire-related, and are awaiting a coroner’s ruling.
“Patience required in this investigation,” tweeted Sheriff Jim McDonnell. “Fire conditions still too dangerous for detectives to approach.”
—Brianna Sacks and David Mack
As California burns, President Trump casts blame on forest management
President Trump offered no condolences to those killed in the California wildfires, but did use a tweet on Saturday to cast blame for the blazes on “gross mismanagement of the forests.”
Trump said “billions of dollars are given each year,” and threatened “no more Fed payments” if it isn’t improved.
This isn’t the first time Trump has blamed regulations for wildfires in the Democrat-run state.
In August, as fires ravaged California’s north, he lashed out at Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s water and tree-clearing laws.
Read more from August: Baffled Experts Say Trump Is Completely Clueless On California Fire Policies
Llamas, dogs, horses, and an owl: These photos show how animals are fleeing the fires
Three major wildfires burning in California have forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate, which has also meant an exodus of animals escaping the flames.
In Northern California, the Camp fire had killed at least nine people as of Friday and scorched more than 6,700 structures, making it the most destructive in state history.
Meanwhile, less than 24 hours after a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, more than 200,000 residents in Southern California were ordered to flee their homes as the Woolsey and Hill fires tore though the region.
But mass evacuations meant everything from pet dogs to farm animals and wildlife have also needed to find respite, making for dramatic pictures.
—Stephanie K. Baer
Death toll climbs to at least nine people as the Camp fire becomes the most destructive in state history
The Camp fire in Northern California on Friday became the most destructive in state history, with the death toll also climbing to at least nine.
The Butte County Sheriff’s Office announced that it had recovered four more bodies from the fire’s aftermath — one near a vehicle on the road, and the others outside residences.
Earlier in the day, five people were found dead inside charred vehicles, apparently overtaken by wind-whipped flames. The Camp fire spread so rapidly that entire towns were forced to evacuate almost simultaneously. On highways, traffic slowed to a crawl, prompting many people to abandon their vehicles.
In addition to taking a toll on human life, the Camp fire has proven to be the most destructive in state history, destroying 6,713 structures across 90,000 acres, according to Cal Fire. As of Friday night, it was just 5% contained, as it continued to rage in gusty winds across dry landscapes, practically razing the town of Paradise.
The Tubbs fire, which tore through Napa and Sonoma counties in 2017, had previously held the No. 1 rank, with 5,636 structures destroyed and 36,807 acres burned.
Two other major wildfires also continued to ravage Southern California, but so far, no deaths have been attributed to the Woolsey or Hill fires as they destroyed one home after another and prompted entire cities, including Malibu, to evacuate.
A sixth person has died in the Camp fire
Authorities say a sixth person has died in the Camp fire in Northern California.
Butte County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Megan McMann confirmed the death to the Associated Press Friday, but did not have any details on the circumstances.
Earlier, the sheriff’s office said the bodies of at least five people had been found in charred vehicles overtaken by the fire near the town of Paradise.
Officials said the victims could not be immediately identified because of burn injuries.
—Stephanie K. Baer
PG&E says one of its power lines had an outage 15 minutes before the Camp fire started
Pacific Gas & Electric, the largest power company in Northern California, told state regulators Friday that an electrical transmission line experienced an outage just 15 minutes before the deadly Camp fire started on Nov. 8.
In a preliminary report to the California Utilities Commission, PG&E stated that a survey of the power line from the air in the afternoon found damage to a transmission tower along the line.
The Camp fire practically destroyed the town of Paradise and has been blamed for at least five deaths as it continues to rage through thousands of acres of dry vegetation.
Cal Fire investigators previously found that power lines and related equipment owned by PG&E started 16 fires in October 2017 alone. The company has currently shut off power to tens of thousands of people across California as a precaution and to assist firefighting efforts for the Camp fire, as well as the Woolsey and Hill fires in Southern California, according to its outage map.
The company's regulatory relations department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Woolsey fire more than doubles to 35,000 acres
The Woolsey fire more than doubled in size to 35,000 acres by Friday evening, prompting evacuations across Southern California's coast and canyons.
With heavy winds in the forecast for Sunday, firefighters expected the blaze to also grow through the weekend.
"We’re in the seventh year of a drought," Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen told reporters. "Our weather conditions, our hill conditions are absolutely ripe for fire."
Officials had no immediate estimate of how many homes and structures has been lost so far, but one large house after another could be seen lighting up in flames in aerial news footage throughout the day.
Gusty winds and low visibility had at times on Friday grounded aircraft dropping water and fire retardant onto flames. Firefighters were also waiting on hundreds of requested vehicles and personnel to assist them, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.
"We’re competing with other fires in the state of California," he said, adding that more resources would be coming in from out of state.
He urged residents to heed evacuation orders. A few times on Friday, firefighters had come across people staying in threatened homes.
"When you do that, that puts your lives at risks and our firefighters lives at risk," Osby said. "I can only imagine the impact of someone asking you to leave your home, but we’re doing it for your safety."
About 75% of Thousand Oaks' population had been told to leave their homes, undoubtedly meaning that some of the evacuees were people affected by Wednesday night's deadly shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill, Mayor Andy Fox said.
"Some of the folks that were affected by the shooting just a few days ago likely were asked to leave their home on top of that," he said.
He asked people to keep victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers. Their loss went beyond that of residents affected by the fire, he added.
"Thankfully, we’ve not lost a single life," he said of the wildfire. "And difficult as it may be, homes can be rebuilt."
Dozens of homes have been destroyed in Malibu as rescues remain ongoing
Dozens of homes had burned in Malibu by Friday afternoon as firefighters continued to respond to reports of people trapped by the Woolsey fire.
Homes in the Kanan-Dume area were destroyed, and Point Dume was also hard hit by the fast-moving blaze. A firefighter told BuzzFeed News it was as bad as the 1993 wildfire that devastated the city, and possibly worse.
The entire city was under evacuation, but emergency calls of residents trapped and unable to flee continued to come in Friday afternoon. Power lines were down, and cars weren’t allowed on roads to make way for emergency vehicles.
But in some neighborhoods, residents couldn’t stay away. They checked on their homes, circumventing road closures on foot or on bicycles.
—Brianna Sacks and Claudia Koerner
Videos show the speed and destruction of the Camp fire
Videos posted to social media show the speed and deadly destruction of the Camp fire in Northern California, which officials said overtook at least five people who were trying to flee in their vehicles, killing them.
The wind-whipped fire spread quickly, exploding from 8,000 acres Thursday to 70,000 acres Friday, giving residents of Paradise, California, almost no time to prepare as they evacuated.
Some residents and reporters captured video of the apocalyptic scene.
The fire hit Paradise residents particularly hard. Cal Fire spokesperson Scott McLean said Thursday that the fire “has destroyed the town.”
Paradise residents evacuated so quickly that traffic slowed to a near halt as so many of them took to local highways at once, with gridlock apparently proving to be deadly.
Many abandoned their cars as they fled the fire, prompting firefighters to later clear the way with bulldozers. At least five bodies were also discovered in charred vehicles, their identities not immediately discernable due to burn injuries, officials said.
Videos also show how Paradise is now a smoking shell of what it was just yesterday morning.
These pictures show the total devastation caused by the wildfires
Thousands of structures have burned because of the Camp, Hill, and Woolsey fires, and the destruction continued Friday.
With ongoing winds and dry weather conditions, the fires were expected to grow. Across the state, hundreds of thousands of people were forced to evacuate.
These photos show the devastation that the wildfires have already caused.
Celebrities were forced to flee their homes as an out-of-control wildfire rages near Malibu
Kim Kardashian West, Khloé Kardashian, Caitlyn Jenner, Rainn Wilson, Cher, and Alyssa Milano are just some of the celebrities who have been forced to flee their homes as wildfires rage in Southern California.
Kardashian West thanked firefighters after evacuating her home.
She tweeted Thursday night that she had flown back to California only to have to pack up her home in Calabasas due to the fires. Her sister Khloé also tweeted that the flames had jumped the 101 freeway and she needed to know whether to evacuate.
Kanye West later posted that his family was safe and thanked everyone for their prayers. However, on Friday TMZ reported that the fire had reached their new home and that it was in “grave danger of being consumed by the flames.”
Representatives for the Kardashians did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Others were not so lucky. While Caitlyn Jenner's rep Alan Nierob said his client was "safe and long since evacuated," he could not confirm reports that her home burned down.
Milano said on Twitter that she was concerned about the welfare of her home and her animals. She also pleaded for help in saving her five horses.
Wilson said he evacuated his house and that his dogs and pigs are safe. Cher, meanwhile, said she was worried about her Malibu house, but more importantly that her heart was broken for the people who had lost everything in the fire.
Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson said that while his family was safe, their home had burned down and they lost everything.
"We lost our home, but we are all safe and that’s the important thing. Gonna be offline for awhile," he tweeted.
ABC's famed Bachelor house was also in danger of being destroyed by the wildfire, according to show creator Mike Fleiss. He posted a photo of the flames near the iconic house while praying that it would be saved.
More than 200,000 have evacuated as homes burn around Malibu
The entire city of Malibu as well as surrounding areas were evacuated on Friday as the Woolsey fire continued to burn out of control across 14,000 acres.
City officials said they couldn't remember such a widespread evacuation of the coastal community ever happening before. The city is home to about 13,000 people.
"All residents must evacuate immediately," an emergency alert read. "All lanes of [the Pacific Coast Highway] are open for southbound traffic only. PCH closed for northbound traffic completely."
And the fire's spread touched communities across the Ventura County–Los Angeles County border. At least 200,000 people had evacuated because of the fire, Capt. Tony Imbrenda of the LA County Fire Department told BuzzFeed News.
Since officials made that estimate Friday morning, the fire and evacuations had expanded substantially, he added.
"I suspect that number has grown substantially," he said.
The scope of evacuations put traffic at a standstill on Pacific Coast Highway, the only route to safety for Malibu residents. By the afternoon, the flames had moved into neighborhoods, and multiple homes were burning.
The Woolsey fire has burned a historic movie ranch near Malibu, park officials say
The Woolsey fire has burned a historic Western-style ranch that has been featured in movies and television in the Santa Monica Mountains, park officials said Friday.
The Paramount Ranch, located in the Agoura Hills, has been featured in hundreds of movies and TV shows since the late 1920s, including the 1941 Bob Hope film Caught in the Draft, the 2006 feature The Lake House with Sandra Bullock, and, most recently, the HBO series Westworld.
The National Park Service said on Twitter that officials didn't have any photos or details, but "it is [their] understanding that the structures have burned."
Local photojournalist John Schreiber captured the destruction in a series of photos on Twitter.
Actress Evan Rachel Wood, of Westworld, mourned the loss of the western town where the HBO show was set.
—Stephanie K. Baer
Camp fire: At least 5 people found dead in vehicles
Authorities say the bodies of at least five people were found in charred vehicles overtaken by the Camp fire near the town of Paradise in Northern California.
The Butte County Sheriff's Office said the victims could not be immediately identified because of burn injuries.
Autopsies are scheduled to determine the circumstances of their deaths.
The Butte County Coroner's Office has formed an interagency team to investigate reports of additional fatalities in the area, officials said.
Destruction from raging wildfires is "unbelievable and heartbreaking"
As three major wildfires raged in California, forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee neighborhoods as homes burned, the state's top emergency services official said Friday that the breadth of destruction was "unbelievable."
"The magnitude of destruction is really unbelievable and heartbreaking," Mark Ghilarducci, director of California's Office of Emergency Services.
The destruction continued as the Camp fire raged in Northern California and the Woolsey and Hill fires scorched thousands of acres in Southern California in dry conditions amid gusty winds.
"Weather-wise, we are in a statewide red flag warning," Ghilarducci said.
There have been injuries and loss of life, but officials said they have not yet determined to what extent.
California's Governor-elect Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Butte County on Thursday as the 18,000-acre Camp fire destroyed the town of Paradise and forced at least 50,000 people to evacuate.
On Friday, Newsom also declared a state of emergency in the Southern California counties of Ventura and Los Angeles, where the Woolsey and Hill fires have forced around 105,000 people to evacuate.
Officials warned of critical fire conditions and a "very dangerous weather pattern" across California through the weekend going into early next week.
At least 75,000 homes in Ventura and Los Angeles counties are under evacuation orders due to the Woolsey fire, which jumped the 101 Freeway on its way toward the Pacific Ocean. It also forced the entire city of Malibu to evacuate early Friday morning.
The Woolsey fire has scorched 8,000 acres, while the Hill fire has burned through 6,100 acres. Both are at 0% containment.
Woolsey fire: The wind-driven fire forced the entire city of Malibu to evacuate on Friday
Less than 24 hours after the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, residents in Southern California were forced to flee their homes as a raging wildfire — dubbed the Woolsey fire — consumed the area.
On Friday morning, the wind-driven fire forced the entire city of Malibu to evacuate. Around 75,000 homes in Ventura and Los Angeles counties are under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The fire has scorched at least 8,000 acres and is at 0% containment.
—Hazel Shearing and Brianna Sacks
Camp fire: The California governor-elect declared a state of emergency as 30,000 people were forced to evacuate
California's Governor-elect Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Thursday, as the raging fire in Northern California — dubbed the Camp fire — tore through the region.
The fire has destroyed at least 20,000 acres and thousands of homes. Up to 30,000 people have been forced to evacuate due to the blaze.