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Camp Fire burning in Butte County reaches 66% containment

Posted at 7:25 AM, Nov 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-19 18:27:52-05

UPDATE (3:20 p.m.) – Authorities in Northern California are lifting mandatory orders for communities south and northwest of a deadly blaze that decimated the town of Paradise.

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office said Monday several communities near Paradise can be re-entered, but it urged residents to make sure they have food, water and fuel in their vehicles and to avoid using the roads as much as possible.

Officials say fire crews are still in the area working to clear downed utility poles, burned trees and other hazards.

CAL FIRE officials say the blaze has destroyed nearly 300 apartment buildings and more than 10,000 homes.

The fire has charred 236 square miles since it ignited Nov. 8.

It continues to burn in steep, rugged terrain in the Plumas National Forest.


 

UPDATE (2:30 p.m.) – Fire officials say two men were arrested on suspicion of burglarizing a fire station during a wildfire that decimated a Northern California town.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday Robert DePalma and William Erlbacher were arrested on charges of looting, stealing a vehicle and being in possession of stolen property.

The department says the Concow men were booked into Butte County Jail on $250,000 bail. No information on attorneys for the men was immediately available.

The blaze that started on Nov. 8 leveled the town of Paradise and heavily damaged the communities of Magalia and Concow. The fire continues to burn Monday in steep, rugged terrain in the Plumas National Forest.

Authorities last week arrested five men and a woman six suspected of looting evacuated homes.


 

UPDATE (1:50 p.m.) – Alcatraz Island, the iconic cable cars and other famous San Francisco Bay Area attractions have been closed because of bad air quality from wildfires in Northern California.

Muir Woods, Oakland Zoo and the just-opened holiday ice rink at San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center were also closed Monday.

Many of the sites have been shut down for several days because of choking smoke from a deadly wildfire in Paradise, about 180 miles away.

The attractions said they hoped to reopen Tuesday but would evaluate air quality levels before deciding.

Several San Francisco museums offered free admission over the weekend to give the public options for indoor activities.


 

UPDATE (1:20 p.m.) – It’s been days since Christina Taft provided a DNA sample to officials so they could try to identify remains that likely belong to her mother, but Taft hasn’t received official confirmation of her death in the Northern California fire.

The 25-year-old Paradise resident says she’s been frustrated by what she feels is a lack of communication from Butte County officials.

She says authorities told her they found the remains last week and asked for the DNA sample. She went to the sheriff’s office to give a cheek swab.

Taft says she’s been unable to get more information from law enforcement.

Sheriff Kory Honea has said the department has been overwhelmed by calls from people seeking information on loved ones.

Taft says her 66-year-old mother was a kind woman who did not evacuate her Paradise home because she did not know it was mandatory.


 

UPDATE (12:40 p.m.) – Evacuees are routinely telling shelter workers that people still listed as missing after the deadly Northern California wildfire are actually safe – a situation that underscores the chaotic search for survivors.

Robert James Miles said Monday that he alerted a Red Cross worker over the weekend about eight friends who were incorrectly listed as missing. He said two were at the same shelter where they were reported missing.

Such confusion is hampering authorities as they try to keep track of people displaced from their homes by the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century.

Nearly 1,000 names are still on a list of people unaccounted for.

Anguished friends and family continue to search online for people they haven’t heard from since the blaze began on Nov. 8.

A list of missing persons is posted on the Butte County Sheriff’s website.


 

UPDATE (10 a.m.) – The National Weather Service says rain predicted for the Northern California area decimated by a deadly wildfire could cause wet ash to flow down steep inclines in the mountainous region.

That could complicate the efforts of crews that are searching for human remains, so hundreds of searchers have fanned out in the leveled town of Paradise before rains starting Wednesday. The rain could wash away the remains and turn dusty debris from the fire into mud.

Forecaster Eric Kurth said Monday that storms expected to soak the scorched Paradise area Wednesday and into Thanksgiving weekend could dump at least 4 inches of rain.

He says weather projections show the area will see moderate, steady rain. It’s still unclear whether there will be heavy rain that could unleash large debris flows and mudslides.

He says forecasters will have a better idea about the storm’s strength on Tuesday.


 

(7:25 a.m.) – CAL FIRE released the newest numbers regarding the Camp Fire burning in Butte County Monday morning.

Fire officials say the fire has burned 151,000 acres and has reached 66 percent containment.

Authorities say at least 77 people have died in the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century.

Rain in the forecast could bring relief for those working to tame the blaze, however, this means the search for bodies left behind is a new urgency.

Rain falling on the burned town of Paradise can wash away signs of the dead or turn the dusty debris into a thick paste.

CAL FIRE says they expect full containment of the Camp Fire on Nov. 30.

Approximately 7,400 firefighters are still working to put out the fires burning throughout California as of Monday morning according to CAL FIRE.

The Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire have burned more than 246,449 acres and destroyed about 13,916 structures.

The fire agency said poor air quality form the smoke will continue until Tuesday.