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Death Toll For California's Wildfires Rises To 25

The Camp fire in Paradise is one of the three deadliest fires in California’s history.

The death toll for California’s wildfires more than doubled on Saturday as fire officials continued fighting to keep the widespread blaze contained.

In Northern California, where the Camp fire has incinerated more than 100,000 acres, including the town of Paradise, investigators discovered 14 more bodies trapped inside cars and homes, and outside. Four of those bodies were found in the community of Concow and 10 were in Paradise.

There are still 110 people reported missing in the massive Northern California wildfires, the Butte County Sheriff’s Department said.

Officials also discovered two additional bodies in Southern California’s wildfires, bringing the state’s death toll up to 25 from the nine reported Friday. The two bodies were found inside of a car on a residential driveway in Malibu.

A forensics team is working to identify the remains of the deceased, fire officials said in a press conference in Northern California on Saturday night. No identities have been released.

“No big surprise how devastating this incident is,” Todd Derum, division chief of Cal Fire for Sonoma County, said Saturday night. “We’re still at the very, very front of the incident. ... We may have very, very challenging times to come.”

Weather officials warned that strong winds and dry weather are predicted in the coming days, which could further fuel the Camp fire.

The fires in Southern California saw calmer conditions on Saturday, however winds are also expected to pick up in Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Tuesday.

Video of the inferno taken by Paradise resident Brynn Parrott Chatfield on Thursday shows the horror of the fire. In the video posted to Facebook, two people are seen in a car trying to escape a barrage of flames licking the road.

“I feel very vulnerable posting this but I feel I should,” Chatfield wrote on Facebook. “My hometown of Paradise is on fire. My family is evacuated and safe. Not all my friends are safe. It’s very surreal. Things always work out, but the unknown is a little scary.”

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has blamed poor “forest management” for the fires and has threatened to cut federal payments. But the fires are more likely the result of climate change and overpopulation.

In Southern California, Ventura County Fire Department Assistant Chief Chad Cook said drought and wind conditions had also played a role. 

“The first part of this fuel bed had not seen fire for many years,” Cook said Thursday. “Drought-stricken fuels, Santa Ana wind conditions, low relative humidity, high temperatures: It’s a recipe for fire.”

So far, 4,050 fire officials and first responders have been deployed to the Camp fire and at least 52,000 people were forced to evacuate. Officials estimated that 6,453 homes and 260 commercial properties have been destroyed.

The Camp fire is now among the top three deadliest fires in the state. The 1991 Tunnels fire which covered 1,600 acres in the hills of northern Oakland also resulted in 25 deaths. The Griffith Park fire which burned 47 acres in Los Angeles killed 29 people in 1933.

The Woolsey fire has also caused 200,000 people to evacuate the city of Malibu. The fire has scorched more than 70,000 acres, Cal Fire reported Saturday afternoon.

By comparison, the Tubbs fire last year burned more than 36,000 acres, destroyed more than 5,000 homes and killed 22 people. It was the most destructive fire in California’s history until this week. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated Todd Derum’s title. He is the division chief of Cal Fire for Sonoma County, not Sedona County.

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