The death toll from the Camp Fire in Northern California has increased to 71 while 1,011 people are unaccounted for, the Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Friday. He cautioned the list is “dynamic” and will fluctuate.
In Southern California, just outside of Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire is 78 percent contained after burning 98,000 acres.
Now, dense smoke from the fires is smothering parts of the state with what has been described as “the dirtiest air in the world.”
More than 1,000 people have been listed as missing in wake of the Camp Fire, the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century.
At least 71 people have died in the fire, authorities announced Friday. They said they are trying to locate 1,011 people but they stressed that not all are believed missing. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the list of people unaccounted for contains “somewhat raw” information that could include duplicate names and alternate spellings. The list could also include those who escaped the fire and were unaware they were considered unaccounted for.
Firefighters have been racing against time, with a red flag warning issued for Saturday night into Sunday, including winds up to 50 mph and low humidity. Rain was forecast for mid-week, which could help firefighters but also complicate the challenging search for remains.
“It’s a disheartening situation,” Honea said. “As much as I wish we could get through this before the rains come, I don’t know if that’s possible.”
The news comes as President Trump prepares to visit Northern California on Saturday. California’s outgoing and incoming governors, both Democrats and vocal critics of Trump, planned to join the president Saturday. Gov. Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom welcomed Trump’s visit, declaring it’s time “to pull together for the people of California.”
Mr. Trump has stirred resentment among survivors over comments he made two days after the disaster on Twitter, then reiterated on the eve of his visit. In an interview taped Friday and scheduled for broadcast on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Trump said he was surprised to see images of firefighters removing dried brush near a fire, adding, “This should have been all raked out.”
Asked if he thought climate change contributed to the fires, he said: “Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.” Those comments echoed his initial reaction to the fires November 10 when he blamed the wildfires on poor forest management and threatened then to withhold federal payments. Mr. Trump subsequently approved a federal disaster declaration.