A councilman from Malibu was hospitalized after he desperately tried to save his home from a disastrous blaze that has led to large-scale evacuations of residents.
The Woolsey and Hill Fires in Southern California have obliterated tens of thousands of acres of land in the Los Angeles area since they sparked on Thursday morning. The Woolsey Fire has claimed two lives so far, and was only 30 percent contained as of Monday.
Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner, who serves as Mayor Pro Tem of Malibu, was taken to the intensive care unit after experiencing severe smoke inhalation while trying to save his home as the Woolsey Fire approached on Friday, officials announced. Despite his efforts, the home burned down, ABC 7 reported.
“The City extends its support and best wishes for a complete recovery and quick return to the community that he loves,” a post on the city’s website reads. They would not be releasing any other information, officials added.
Wagner is a popular local and is known for operating Zuma Jay Surfboards off of the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
According to CBS Los Angeles, Wagner was elected to Malibu’s city council in April 2008, and served four years until he was selected as the Mayor Pro Tem — a position designated to a councilperson who will serve in the mayor’s absence due to death, impeachment of resignation. He was chosen to complete a second term in late 2016.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Wagner has also had dabbled in the entertainment industry, having played a former Marlboro Man and participated in films such as Into the Wild, Flags of Our Fathers, Inferno and L.A. Heat.
The Woolsey and Hill fires are just two of three fires that have devastated California over the last week. In Northern California, the Camp Fire has burned through 113,000 acres since it began on Thursday and was only 25 percent contained as of Monday.
The blaze — which has devastated much of Butte County — quickly wiped out the town of Paradise and outside areas over the course of several days. At least 6,435 homes and 260 commercial structures in the county have been wiped out, Good Morning America reported.
On Monday night, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced four of the 42 confirmed victims have been identified so far Ernest Foss, 65, of Paradise; Jesus Fernandez, 48, of Concow; Carl Wiley, 77, of Magalia; and a fourth that will not be released until the family has been notified.
The death toll from all three fires remains at 44 as of Tuesday.
Sheriff Honea announced that 13 coroner agencies have been recruited to help with the search for human remains. Three anthropology search teams have already been deployed to the area and, on Tuesday, 150 search and rescue personnel will be on hand to offer their assistance.
As they increase their efforts to find and identify victims, Sheriff Honea said they will also bring in human remains detector dogs, also known as cadaver dogs, and veterinarian support teams to keep the canines safe among the devastation.
At least 228 people are still missing, he added.