As a trio of devastating fires continues to ravage California, hundreds of thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes, while the death toll keeps rising.
High winds, low humidity and dry vegetation have stoked the fires, which have quickly spread throughout the state, causing a quarter of a million people to flee the area, according to CNN. 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.
Firefighters in the northern part of the state are battling a blaze — known as the Camp Fire — which has led to the evacuation of nearly 40,000 people. As of Saturday morning, the fire had burned through 100,000 acres and was 20 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. This was the largest of the three blazes as of Friday, CNN reported.
The Butte County Sheriff shared a press release on Friday stating that nine fatalities had been reported, all in the town of Paradise.
Five victims were found “in vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire,” according to the statement. As their bodies were badly burned, police could not immediately identify the victims.
An additional four victims were later found.
“One person was found inside a residence and three were found outside of residences,” according to the statement.
Paradise Mayor Jody Jones told the Sacremento Bee that between 80 to 90 percent of the town had been destroyed by the fire.
The cause of the fire, which has become the most destructive wildfire in California’s history, remains under investigation, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Hill Fire, located just a few miles from where 12 people were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday night, has burned through thousands of acres.
As of Friday, the blaze had burned through 4,531 acres of land and was 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.
“I’ve lived here since 1998,” Arita Kronska, 62, who lives in the area, told the Los Angeles Times. “This is the first time I’ve seen a fire like this.”
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As of Friday evening, the Woolsey Fire had swelled to 35,000 and remained at zero percent containment, Cal Fire reported. Over 200,000 residents of Ventura County and Malibu have fled the blaze, CNN reported.
According to the Times, residents in Malibu received a warning just after 12 p.m. on Friday to evacuate as the flames closed in on the city.
“We have hundreds of firefighters here on the fire lines right now, many more on order,” Ventura County Fire Department Chief Mark Lorenzen told ABC 7.
Amid the continued devastation, President Donald Trump has threatened to pull federal funding in the future if the state does not remedy what he calls the “gross mismanagement of the forests.”
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted on Saturday, while overseas in Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War II.
“Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” he added.
The president has criticized the state in the past, claiming that their “bad environmental laws” were partly to blame.
“California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized,” he tweeted in August. “It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!”
Over the summer, 16 wildfires raged across California.