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By Tony Dunn
On Nov. 8, 2018, I was trapped in my car as embers fell all around me in Paradise, California, and the thought that kept going through my head was, "This can't be the same fire [that had been reported 10 miles away only two hours before]. Fires can't move like that."
I should know: I spent nearly a decade studying wildland fire history, fire ecology and fire behavior in Southern California for the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies.
By Dani Burlison
On a bright spring afternoon in late April, roughly 75 people gathered at the first Camp Fire restoration weekend at a farm 20 miles southwest of Paradise, California. The small private farm, nestled near a sprawling cow pasture that reaches east toward the burn zone, was safe from the Camp Fire. But in Paradise, signs of the devastating fire remain: burned-out vehicles, long lines of debris-removal trucks snaking toward the highway, billboards of encouragement (and insurance company ads) for survivors, and posters thanking first responders.
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What does Trump have against California? Without prompting or explanation, the president tweeted Wednesday that he ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to halt funding for its wildfire relief unless "they get their act together."
"Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen," he wrote. "Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!" An earlier tweet that misspelled the word "forest" was replaced with the one that's up now.
Noah Berger / AFP / Getty Images
In terms of natural disasters, 2018 was a really bad year. Communities in the United States and around the world were devastated by record-breaking wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other catastrophes.
Lamentably, these weather and geophysical events caused 10,400 human deaths and $160 billion in estimated damages last year, reinsurance company Munich Re said on Tuesday.
From wildfires in California to flooding in Japan, 2018 made it very clear that climate change isn't just a future threat. To drive the point home, the charity Christian Aid published a report Thursday that puts a price tag on some of the most devastating extreme weather events of the year.
The report, Counting the Cost: A Year of Climate Breakdown, highlights 10 disasters that cost more than $1 billion in damages. Four of them cost more than $7 billion.
The forecasted rain could bring much-needed relief for the firefighters battling the Camp Fire in Butte County. However, it could also bring new hazards due to possible ash, mud and debris flows triggered by the rain.
The death toll from the catastrophic Camp Fire—by far the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history—has now risen to 63, with 631 people still unaccounted for, the Huffington Post reported Friday.
The Butte County Sheriff's Office announced on Thursday that the death toll had risen from Wednesday's figure of 56 after the remains of seven more people were discovered in the wreckage.
California suffered a devastating weekend as wildfires raging in both the south and north of the state killed 31 and forced 250,000 to flee their homes, BBC News reported Monday. More than 200 people are still missing.
The Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise Thursday, tied the 1933 Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles for the deadliest fire in California history when the death toll reached 29. It is also the most destructive in terms of the number of structures burned, with a total of more than 6,700 as of Saturday, ABC 7 News reported. So far it has burned more than 109,000 acres and is almost 25 percent contained as of the most recent reporting by BBC News.
The Camp Fire went on to engulf the town of Paradise, home to 27,000 people, forcing evacuations and damaging thousands of buildings, the Associated Press reported.