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42 Dead in California's Camp Fire, Deadliest in State History

Climate
California fires seen from NASA's Terra satellite. Image taken Nov. 9, 2018. NASA

The Camp Fire in Northern California is not only the most destructive in state's modern history, it's also the deadliest.

The death toll climbed to 42 as of Monday, according to Cal Fire.


Sadly, the total number of deaths could grow. Butte County sheriff Kory L. Honea said more 228 people remain missing in the area, Reuters reported.

"My sincere hope is that I don't have to come here each night and report a higher and higher number," Honea said at a press conference Monday night.

The inferno has burned 117,000 acres of land, destroyed 6,453 residences, 260 commercial buildings and is only 30 percent contained. Three firefighters have been injured.

The Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise on Thursday, surpasses the death toll of the 1933 Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles that killed 29 people.

"Forecasted low relative humidity and dry fuel moistures combined with steep rugged terrain will continue to impede control operations," Cal Fire said about the Camp Fire on Monday.

California has been terrorized by a string of devastating wildfires. Last year's Tubbs Fire, which burned parts of Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties, killed 22 people (the third deadliest in the state) and burned 5,636 structures (the second highest number of structures), the San Francisco Chronicle tallied.

The ongoing wildfires in both Northern and Southern California have been whipped by strong winds, years of prolonged drought that have dried vegetation, and climate change, experts have said.

Nearly 9,000 firefighters are battling the fires throughout the state, Reuters reported.

The Woolsey Fire in Southern California's Ventura County has killed two people, burned 93,662 acres and is 30 percent contained, Cal Fire reported Monday evening.

President Trump—who threatened to withdraw federal funding and criticized California officials for "gross mismanagement" of forests in an ill-informed and widely criticized tweet—has approved a disaster declaration in the state. This will unlock federal funding and other resources.

"I just approved an expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of California," the president tweeted Monday. "Wanted to respond quickly in order to alleviate some of the incredible suffering going on. I am with you all the way. God Bless all of the victims and families affected."

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