California wildfires death toll now at least 42

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The National Interagency Fire Center, which is based in Boise, said the fires in California have drawn resources from 14 states, including Alaska and South Dakota.

The fire already ranked as the most destructive on record in California in terms of property losses, having consumed more than 7,100 homes and other structures since igniting on Thursday in Butte County's Sierra foothills, about 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco.

Five days after flames all but obliterated the Northern California town of Paradise, population 27,000, officials were unsure of the exact number of missing.

At a Paradise Town Council meeting that evening, Steve Crowder, an incoming councilman and business owner, said he helped direct traffic out of town when the fire broke out and said there were moments he didn't know if he'd make it out alive.

Authorities have requested that 100 National Guard troops join cadaver dogs, mobile morgues and anthropology teams in the grim search and recovery of human remains in the wreckage.


"I've never been to an incident with this much destruction and the complexity that's tied to it", says 30-year veteran Dave Russell of Cal Fire, the state's forestry and fire protection agency.

The origins of both the Camp and Woolsey fires are under investigation.

Second Southern California, Hill Fire, has burned 4,531 acres and was 94 percent contained as of Wednesday morning.

He says he didn't even have time to think, working as he watched the fire coming through the trees towards the house.

At the other end of the state Tuesday, firefighters continued making progress against a 150-square-mile (388-square-kilometer) blaze that has killed two people in star-studded Malibu and destroyed well over 400 structures in Southern California.


While residents have not been allowed back in to areas affected by the fire, Cal Fire now has a map to help people identify the status of their homes and businesses.

More than 50,000 residents in the area remain under evacuation orders and 15,500 buildings are still listed as threatened by the blaze.

Chaplains accompanied some coroner search teams that visited dozens of addresses belonging to people reported missing. "We're starting to get a handle on this fire", said Captain Brian McGrath of the Ventura County Fire Department in an online briefing. "Your house can be rebuilt but you can't bring your life back", said Los Angeles County fire chief Daryl Osby.

Overall, 10 sets of remains were found in Paradise and three in neighboring Concow.

Stocks of California's two largest energy companies fell sharply on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported, as investors anxious about where blame for the deadly fire will fall.


PG&E told state regulators last week that it experienced a problem on a transmission line in the area of the fire just before the blaze erupted. Johnston said this was a reminder of what can happen to firefighters in windy conditions. The company reported a $1 billion net loss in the second quarter of this year, driven by almost $1.6 billion in wildfire costs, and net income of $550 million for the third quarter. It noted that investigators have not yet determined the cause of the blaze.

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