Firefighters battle deadly California blazes amid powerful winds

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By Tim Stelloh

Thousands of firefighters across California were trying to hold the line on a pair of deadly wildfires as powerful winds picked back up on Sunday, roaring across a state that had seen a slight reprieve overnight.

North of Sacramento, the Camp Fire — believed to be the most destructive in state history — had killed 23 people, burned more than 6,000 homes and scorched 109,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

Image: Camp Fire
Araya Cipollini, 19, holds on to her dog T.J. near the burned out remnants of her neighbor’s home burned in the Camp Fire on Nov. 10, 2018, in Paradise.John Locher / AP

In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire was burning from Thousand Oaks, which was still reeling from a mass shooting that left 12 people dead last week, to the wealthy coastal enclave of Malibu. The fire has killed two people, threatened nearly 60,000 structures and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents, officials said.

“This week, California experienced the most destructive fires that we’ve seen in its history,” Scott Jalbert, a Cal Fire unit chief, said Sunday morning.

Nov. 11, 201802:12

The hot, dry Santa Ana winds — which blow toward the Southern California coast from the desert, fanning wildfires — have “us very concerned,” Jalbert added.

Much of the state remained under a red flag warning, which is the forecast used by the National Weather Service to indicate ideal wildland fire conditions. In Southern California, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said Sunday that winds as powerful as 40 mph were expected until Tuesday.

The Camp Fire, in Northern California, began early Thursday morning and quickly swept through the town of Paradise, population roughly 26,000 people, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Nichole Jolly, a surgical nurse at Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, recalled beginning her work day like any other — then getting an immediate evacuation order roughly an hour later and scrambling to escape town alive.


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