Saturday, November 27

Three dead as US wildfires rage



Three people have died in California as a wildfire spreads, causing thousands to evacuate. Thousands of buildings have been damaged by the blaze northeast of San Francisco, fire officials said.

One victim was found in a car after attempting to flee the fires, California Highway Patrol Officer Ben Draper told reporters. Since the middle of August, fires in California have killed 11 people, The US Forest Service, has ordered all 18 of its forests in the state to close on Wednesday for public safety.

The fire has also threatened Paradise, a town devastated just two years ago by the deadliest blaze in state history that prompted a traffic jam as panicked residents tried to escape.

Other wildfires charred huge areas of the west of the US amid gusty, dry conditions, with Washington, Oregon and Idaho also impacted.

Thick smoke choked much of the state and turned the sky orange as thousands of people in communities near Oroville were ordered to evacuate.

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, conservatively estimated the fire had burned about 400 square miles in 24 hours. The unbelievable rates of spread now being observed on these fires – it is historically unprecedented, he tweeted.

In Paradise, where 85 people lost their lives and nearly 19,000 buildings were destroyed, the sky turned from black to cherry red and ash carried on strong winds rained down in a scene reminiscent of the fateful morning of November 8 2018, former Mayor Steve “Woody” Culleton said.

It was extremely frightening and ugly, Mr Culleton said. Everybody has PTSD and what not, so it triggered everybody and caused terror and panic.

In Southern California, fires burned in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. People in foothill communities east of Los Angeles were warned to be ready to flee, but the region’s notorious Santa Ana winds were weaker than predicted.

“We’re encouraged that the wind activity appears to be dying down,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. “The rest of the week looks a little more favorable.”