At least 44 people have died since three wildfires broke out in California, with the Camp Fire taking dozens of lives in Northern California — making it the deadliest blaze in the state’s history, reports say.
The Camp Fire broke out on Thursday, killing at least 42 people and burning through 117,000 acres by Monday, according to the New York Times and CalFire. The fire has left several homes and other structures destroyed, and was only 30 percent contained by Monday.
As of Sunday night, 228 people remained missing, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said, according to the Associated Press. With that, friends and relatives accompanied authorities to search for their loved ones in the rubble of Paradise, the AP reported.
“I want to recover as many remains as we possibly can, as soon as we can,” Honea said on Monday, according to the AP. “Because I know the toll it takes on loved ones.”
On Sunday, Honea announced that the death toll stood at 29. However, in a Monday update, Honea revealed that 10 more bodies had been found in Paradise and three had been discovered in nearby Concow. Miles away, the Woolsey Fire burned outside Los Angeles, after first sparking on Thursday and doubling in size overnight.
The Woolsey Fire has killed two people, injured three and burned through more than 90,000 acres, according to CalFire. It was 30 percent contained by Monday. Meanwhile, the Hill Fire ruined more than 4,500 acres in Ventura County, and was 85 percent contained by Monday.
Thousands have been ordered to evacuate since the massive blazes broke our last week, leaving many fleeing for their lives from the fast-moving flames. The Camp Fire has caused the most damage — and the most deaths — as its left medical staff to evacuate patients from hospitals, and families to leave everything behind for the sake of their lives.
One Paradise resident Nicole Jolly, told CNN that she didn’t think she would make it as flames surrounded her car. She called her husband before running for her life, she recalled his words: “If you’re going to die, die fighting.”
Soon, Jolly found a fire engine and stayed with the group of firefighters until a bulldozer arrived and led them to safety.
Another woman, 65-year-old Anita Waters, told the Times that she was trapped near her mobile-home park in Paradise before being able to drive out of the area. She drove through the ruins and around abandoned cars.
“There were some people that were stuck and the car was on fire and they were in the car,” she told the publication.
However, the president changed his tune on Monday, announcing in a tweet that he has “approved an expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of California.”
“Wanted to respond quickly in order to alleviate some of the incredible suffering going on,” he wrote. “I am with you all the way. God Bless all of the victims and families affected.”
California State University, Sacramento officials said that the campus would be closed on Tuesday “due to poor air quality as a result of smoke from the Camp Fire.”
Although thousands of firefighters are working to contain the blazes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that “strong offshore” winds and low humidity “will promote conditions highly favorable” for a continued spread of the fires.