Published: Sun, November 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Trump Insists Raking Would Help Stop Forest Fires; Twitter Reels

Trump Insists Raking Would Help Stop Forest Fires; Twitter Reels

Rescue teams sifted through burned homes and vehicles on Friday for the remains of victims in the northern California town of Paradise, as the number of those missing in the state's deadliest wildfire spiked to 630 people.

Deputies found eight more bodies Friday, bringing the death toll to 71.

The wildfire this time all but razed the town of Paradise, population 27,000, and heavily damaged the outlying communities of Magalia and Concow on November 8, destroying 9,700 houses and 144 apartment buildings, authorities said. The fire is already the deadliest in the USA since the Cloquet Fire hit Minnesota a century ago.

The Butte County Sheriff's Office said late Wednesday that 130 people were missing; on Thursday morning, the list had grown to more than 300.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, visited the area.

At least two other people have been killed in another, separate wildfire in Southern California, putting the state's death toll at 65 since the two blazes began last week.

President Donald Trump is expected to visit the region Saturday as firefighters struggle to contain the blazes. I want to see California thrive.

The sheriff on Saturday emphasized that authorities were largely relying on the public's cooperation to determine who on the list of missing persons is alive.

Smoke hangs over the scorched remains of Old Town Plaza following the wildfire in Paradise
Smoke hangs over the scorched remains of Old Town Plaza following the wildfire in Paradise

Honea said investigators combined all the information they have received from callers since the fire erupted more than a week ago.

The list probably included some who had fled the blaze and did not realise they had been reported missing, he said. But he said some of those unaccounted for may never be identified.

"The chaos that we were dealing with was extraordinary". Close to 8,800 homes have been destroyed in Northern California. "We feel really bad for the people who don't know what happened to their loved ones and our hearts go out to them", Butte County Sheriff's Investigations Sgt. Steve Collins said.

But when he was asked by Fox News in an interview set to air Sunday whether climate change played a role in the number of serious fires, he said "maybe it contributes a little bit". The utility revealed in a filing on Tuesday that it experienced an outage in Butte County, near the area where the fire is thought to have started ー and right around the same time.

Reeny Victoria Breevaart, who lives in Magalia, a forested community of 11,000 people north of Paradise, said she could not receive warnings because mobile phones were not working. By intentionally lighting fires, property owners or land managers can remove dead and low-lying trees and brush - material that otherwise accumulates and can accelerate the growth of fires.

"Let's hope he gets us some help", the Trump voter said at a FEMA assistance center, where she was trying to get a walker for her 72-year-old mom.

The President focused in several times on the issue of management of the forest to prevent future fires, stressing to reporters that he and the Democrat governors are on the same page when it comes to what he calls "safe forests".

With almost 12,000 homes and buildings burned, refugees from the fire have taken up residence in tents or their vehicles and filled evacuation centers to overflowing. And in 30 days, firefighters have battled more than 500 blazes, Cal Fire said.

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