The Camp Fire Is Officially The Most Destructive In California's History

Scene from the Woolsey fire

Scene from the Woolsey fire

The Southern California seaside enclave of Malibu was in jeopardy on Sunday as walls of flames powered by 85 km/h winds raced west through the Santa Monica Mountains toward the Pacific coastline, destroying multimillion dollar mansions. Footage of the wind-driven wildfire was taken by a crew on board a Los Angeles County Fire Department Firehawk helicopter.

The charred remains of 14 more people have been found in and around a Northern California town overrun by flames from a massive wildfire, officials said on Saturday, raising the death toll to at least 23. Two people were also killed as a result of separate fires in Southern California.

Meanwhile, the Woolsey Fire burned down a portion of Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills known as "Western Town", where hundreds of movies and television shows, including HBO's "Westworld", have been filmed, dating back to the 1920s.

A series of wildfires in Northern California wine country last fall killed 44 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes.

"This event was the worst-case scenario", Butte County Sheriff Kory L. Honea said, referring to the Camp Fire. Many of those victims were found inside cars, apparently unable to outrun the fire. On Friday authorities announced they had found nine bodies in Paradise, a town of 27,000 in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

One of the Northern California fire's victims was an ailing woman whose body was found in bed in a burned-out house in Concow, near Paradise. Paradise was completely leveled by the fires, with 90% of its structures reportedly destroyed.

As California burns from both ends, the Camp Fire now ravaging the northern part of the state has become the most destructive in its history.

Honea cautioned people to continue to remain vigilant.

Cal Fire officials said the Woolsey Fire has burned 130 square miles and destroyed 177 structures. "Please listen to evacuation orders from State and local officials!" A lull in fierce winds that drove a pair of destructive fires allowed firefighters to make their first real progress in stopping the blazes.

"We know Mother Nature has given us some reprieve today", he said, "but I need everyone to remain vigilant". The winds are not blowing. "The rate of spread is exponentially more than it used to be", said Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen, urging residents to evacuate rather than stay behind to try to defend their homes.

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Osby said Saturday that his firefighters were reporting "conditions they have never seen in their lives".

Some 228 people are still unaccounted for, Honea said, while another 137 people have been located after friends or relatives reported being unable to contact them. "It hasn't burned in decades and I knew we didn't stand a chance".

He said firefighters' objectives for Saturday included perimeter control along the 101 freeway, and in Bell Canyon and Malibu Canyon.

Homes and other buildings were still burning and fire crews were trying to extinguish those blazes, said Scott McLean, a captain with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

However the incident "is being investigated by the homicide department", a department spokesperson told reporters.

Two people have been arrested so far on suspicion of looting, according to Sgt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. "It completely ignores the dynamic of what's going on around us", he told the Chronicle.

Pepperdine University in Malibu, which had several students at the deadly Thousand Oaks shooting Wednesday night, canceled classes Friday because of the approaching fire.

Around midnight, he saw almost 20 trucks pull onto the Pepperdine University campus once officials learned the students wouldn't be evacuating. Authorities said investigators believed the driver became disoriented and the vehicle was overcome by fire.

No additional structures burned overnight to Spelman's knowledge.

President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for the state Friday but he has threatened to withhold future funds because of what he described as poor forest management.

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