Death toll hits 48 in California's worst wildfire disaster

Death toll hits 48 in California's worst wildfire disaster

The killer blaze, fueled by thick, drought-desiccated scrub, has capped two back-to-back catastrophic wildfire seasons in California that scientists largely attribute to prolonged drought they say is symptomatic of climate change.

An initial report from an ongoing field damage inspection in fire-ravaged Paradise, California, shows almost all of the homes have been destroyed in an area surveyed.

The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday in a press release that it will donate $500,000 for fire relief efforts to the California Community Foundation's Wildfire Relief Fund and the California Fire Foundation.

The sheriff said he also has requested three portable morgue teams from the US military, a "disaster mortuary" crew and an unspecified number of cadaver dog units to assist in the search for human remains.

One of the town's two elementary schools was totally destroyed by the Camp Fire.

The Camp Fire started last Thursday morning, growing explosively and forcing panicked evacuations.

Aided by diminished winds and rising humidity levels, fire crews had managed by late Tuesday to carve containment lines around more than a third of both fires, easing further the immediate threat to life and property. More than 15,500 structures are at risk of being swallowed by the Camp Fire in the north, and 57,000 homes and other buildings are in jeopardy due to the Woolsey Fire in the south.

Another two people died in the separate Woolsey Fire that has destroyed 435 structures and displaced about 200,000 people in the mountains and foothills near Southern California's Malibu coast, west of Los Angeles.

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"America's Newsroom" spoke to a woman who evacuated from Paradise, California, just moments before a raging wildfire scorched the Northern California town.

Authorities have not updated the total number of missing since Sunday, when 228 people were unaccounted for.

The company said it has wildfire liability insurance coverage of about $1.4 billion for the year that ends July 31, 2019.

Officials are working on a plan to allow evacuees from the Camp Fire to visit their evacuated neighborhoods to see whether their homes are still standing. "Right now, we are doing everything we can to support the communities and first responders". "We're here today, and this is the worst I've seen", Zinke said, adding that it was "not the time to point fingers".

'This is so devastating that I don't really have the words to describe it, ' Brown said, saying officials would need to learn how to better prevent fires from becoming so deadly.

Before the Paradise fire, the deadliest single fire on record in California was in 1933 in Los Angeles' Griffith Park that killed 29 people. It happened "near E Street/Alfa Road" - the same intersection where Cal Fire said the Woolsey Fire began.

"We're finding remains in various states", he told reporters. More than 5,600 firefighters from other western states in the country were battling the blaze. State fire investigators have blocked access to the area, which is considered a crime scene.

On Monday, President Donald Trump - at the request of state authorities - declared that a "major disaster" exists in California.

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