Rescuers on Saturday found the bodies of 14 people killed in the most devastating fire ever recorded in California, said the Butte County Sheriff, in which is located Paradise, a town of 27,000, north of Sacramento, California. California’s capital.
“Today, 14 more bodies have been discovered, bringing the total number of deaths to 23,” said Sheriff Kory Honea at a news conference.
Of the 23 dead, 19 were found in Paradise and four in the Concow area, still in Butte County, he said.
Since Thursday, more than 6,700 Paradise buildings, mostly residential houses, have been consumed by the fire called “Camp Fire”.
More than 250,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in a vast area near the capital of this western state of the United States, Sacramento, and in the popular resort town of Malibu, in the south of California.
A dozen kilometers around Paradise, the sky was obscured by acrid smoke, and the sun was hardly visible.
The inhabitants fled the danger, while on the road that leads to the city center lay wrecked cars. The electric poles were gnawed by fire.
“Only a few farmers have come back to see what their livestock is like,” a policewoman told AFP.
The fire has so far consumed more than 40,000 hectares and is controlled by only 20%, according to CalFire, the California Fire Department. Three of the more than 3,200 firefighters deployed were injured.
– Destruction “incredible” –
“The whole lower part of Paradise is a prey to the flames right now, not a single house will stay standing, I have collapsed,” Kevin Winstead, a resident of the nearby city of Magalia, testified on KIEM TV.
The authorities estimate that it will take three weeks to control the flames in this area of the foothills of Sierra Nevada.
“The magnitude of the destruction we’ve seen is truly incredible and heart-breaking,” said Mark Ghilarducci of the California governor’s emergency services office on Friday.
President Donald Trump, traveling to France for the centenary ceremonies of the First World War armistice, has been harsh on California, which has just elected a Democratic governor.
“There is no reason for these huge fires in California, deadly and expensive, except that the management of forests is so bad,” tweeted Mr. Trump on Saturday.
“Billions of dollars are donated every year, so many lives are lost, all because of poor forest management, cure it now, otherwise there will be no more federal payments!” he adds.
In Southern California, where more fires are raging, 200,000 people, including all of Malibu, near Los Angeles, home to many celebrities, have been ordered to evacuate because of the Woolsey fire. which has devoured nearly 28,000 hectares and destroyed at least 150 houses since Thursday afternoon.
– Filming sites destroyed –
“I’ve lived in Malibu for 23 years, since I was born, and I saw flames coming from the mountains above the house,” AFP Heili Hoffmann told AFP. “I felt the trees burn, and I knew I had to go.”
Several personalities like Kim Kardashian or Alyssa Milano have also had to leave their homes.
“I heard that the flames had reached our property but the fire has now been contained, and I pray for the winds to be in our favor,” Kim Kardashian said.