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article imageDeath toll jumps to 25 as California battles wildfires

By Karen Graham     Nov 11, 2018 in Environment
Powerful winds are expected to sweep through California on Sunday, exacerbating three major fires that have killed at least 25 people, destroyed thousands of homes and displaced hundreds of thousands of residents.
The few residents able to return to the northern California town of Paradise on Saturday saw first-hand the extent of the devastation brought on by the Camp Fire. Almost all of the city of 27,000 residents lay in ruins, even as small pockets of fire continued to burn.
Only a day after the Camp Fire began, it had destroyed 6,700 structures, most all of them homes. The death toll for the Camp Fire stands at 23 confirmed deaths, however, 113 people are still missing. Two people were found dead in a wildfire in Southern California, bringing the total number of fatalities for the state to 25.
Cal Fire
"We are doing everything we possibly can to identify those remains and make contact with the next of kin so we can return the remains to the family," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Saturday evening.
"In some cases, the only remains we are able to recover are bones or bone fragments," Honea told reporters. "I know that members of the community who are missing loved ones are anxious, and I know that the news of us recovering bodies has to be disconcerting."
Latest Cal Fire updates on three major fires
The Camp Fire in Butte County is the largest of the trio, and has burned 105,000 acres and is 20 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. It's destroyed an estimated 6,700 buildings, most of which were homes.
The northern California fire has become the third-deadliest wildfire since record-keeping began. The death toll in the fire surpassed the number of deaths from the tragic blaze last year that ravaged the city of Santa Rosa, according to the Associated Press.
The Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles County and Ventura County has burned 83,275 acres and was 5 percent contained as of Saturday night. The Woolsey Fire tore through Malibu mansions and working-class suburban homes in Southern California's hills and canyons.
The Hill Fire in Ventura County has scorched 4,531 acres and is 65 percent contained. The Woolsey and Hill fires in a matter of two days have forced the evacuation of over a quarter of a million people, the majority of them in Los Angeles County.
Winds are expected to pick up on Sunday
Additional towns in Northern California are under an evacuation order - including the communities of Berry Creek, Bush Creek, Mountain House, and Bloomer Hill. The National Weather Service forecast the area would see winds of up to 30 miles per hour with ridges seeing gusts of up to 50 mph starting Saturday night.
Wind gusts on Sunday could reach as high as 30 to 50 mph, depending on elevation, officials warned. The NWS warns the strong winds and low humidity could help the fires spread, and are expected to linger from Sunday through Monday morning. "We know tomorrow Mother Nature's gonna turn her fan back on and the winds are going to start blowing," Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen told reporters Saturday.
More about Wildfires, California, Death toll, Containment, Natural disaster
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