The death toll from the forest fires in California has risen to at least 25. In the area around the northern California village of Paradise alone, 23 victims have been recovered. Two more people were found dead in the coastal town of Malibu. The extinguishing efforts of the fire brigade is still little success.
Strong wind and low humidity heat the fires and ensure that the flames spread quickly. Paradise police chief John Bededict described the fires and the speed with which the fire-rollers feed on the landscape as „extreme“.
The fire department said that the 23 victims of the „Camp Fire“ in Paradise are civilians. In addition, three firefighters had been injured. More than 6,450 residential buildings have fallen victim to the flames since Thursday, around 15,000 buildings are threatened. In the burned out ruins even more victims are feared. In the fight against the flames are more than 4,000 firefighters in use.
No firefighting in the first 24 hours
Thus, the fire disaster in Paradise is one of the worst wildfires in the history of the West Coast State. The extent of the destruction is hard to describe, said the mayor of the small community the US channel CNN. Her house burned down, as had all members of the city council lost their homes, said Jody Jones. They are facing „hard work“ to rebuild the place.
Paradise had been surprised by the fast-spreading flames of „Camp Fire“ Thursday morning. According to the fire department, the fire came so fast that the emergency services did not start extinguishing work in the first 24 hours, but were only busy with rescue operations. „We had very little time to evacuate, people were trapped in their homes and cars,“ said Darren Read, chief of Butte County Fire Department.
Evacuation order continues for Malibu
Even several hours‘ drive farther south on the northern edge of Los Angeles, two wildfires hit tens of thousands of people. The „Woolsey Fire“ charred an area of more than 280 square kilometers by Saturday night. At least 150 houses were burned down, said the fire department. Around 50,000 buildings are still in danger. However, as the winch slowed, the firefighting teams made some progress. The conflagration is now contained to five percent, it said.
For several villages – including the well-known coastal town of Malibu – was on the weekend, however, still a clearance order. Dozens of houses were burned, said the mayor of Malibu. He instructed the residents to stay away for the time being. Many celebrities have expensive villas on the coast and in the adjacent hill country. Stars such as singer and actress Lady Gaga, director and Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and TV personalities Caitlyn Jenner and Kim Kardashian were hit by the evacuations.
He and his wife were taken to safety on a beach, 78-year-old Apocalypse Now star Martin Sheen said in an interview. They would probably spend the night in their car. This is the worst fire he has experienced in 48 years in Malibu. He has little hope that her house is still standing. The German entertainer Thomas Gottschalk and his wife Thea are also among those affected. His villa in Malibu burned down, said Gottschalk the dpa on request.
Trump upset forces
US President Donald Trump accused the California authorities of mismanagement. „There’s no reason for these massive, deadly and expensive California fires except bad forest management,“ Trump wrote on Twitter. Billions of dollars are spent every year and still so many people are dying. He threatened the state ruled by the Democrats with the withdrawal of federal funds.
The California Firefighters‘ Federation (CPF) countered that Trump had pronounced an „uninformed political threat to the innocent victims of these devastating fires.“ This was also a „disgraceful“ attack on the firefighters who risked their lives, said association chief Brian Rice.
One of the worst forest fire years
Forest fires in the fall are not uncommon in California. The state is struggling with increasingly worse outbreaks. California is experiencing another of the worst forest fire years in its history after the devastating fires last autumn.
In the summer, among other things, the Yosemite Valley, which is popular with holidaymakers, had to be closed for several weeks because of a major fire. In comparison to the previous year, fire has already destroyed twice as much space in recent months. With regard to the five-year average, an area three times as large fell victim to the flames.