With only 50% of Northern California’s devastating Camp Fire contained and weekend conditions expected to further spread the flames, officials released updated numbers on the victims and the devastation on Friday night.
The remains of eight more people were found, bringing the current death toll in the state’s deadliest fire to 71. The number of missing is 1,011, although Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea cautioned that this number will fluctuate and may contain duplicate names, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The Camp Fire, which started over a week ago, is just one of three wildfires to simultaneously hit the state, along with the Woolsey and Hill fires in Southern California.
The Northern California fire has burned 146,000 acres and destroyed over 12,000 buildings, of which nearly 10,000 were single-family homes, the newspaper said. Strong wind gusts of up to 55 mph are forecast for Saturday night into Sunday afternoon. Residents are holding out for a chance of rain next week, over Thanksgiving, to help beat back the flames.
President Donald Trump left Washington Saturday morning and headed to Northern California to survey the damage, along with Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom.
In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace that will broadcast on Sunday, Trump repeated his claim that California’s wildfires should be blamed on “mismanagement” rather than more complicated climate and development factors.
Trump said he was visiting the state “just to see the firefighters,” and that “nobody’s ever seen what’s going on over there.” He also seemed to confuse the number of those missing in the Camp Fire with the official death toll.
Without having surveyed the damage yet, Trump offered his own solution: more raking of dry leaves and weeds. “That should’ve been all raked out and cleaned out. You wouldn’t have the fires,” he said.
The president brushed off a question from Wallace about climate change influencing wildfire conditions.
“Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management,” Trump said. “You need forest management,” he added, repeating a claim he had made previously that drew heavy criticism from Californians.
Last week, Trump threatened to pull federal funding to the state after declaring a state of emergency, citing “gross mismanagement of the forests.”
As our sister site Earther reported, thanks to the wildfires, California now has the worst air quality on the planet. Also, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated, forcing some to live in makeshift shelters like this Walmart parking lot. The Los Angeles Times reported that by last Thursday, a norovirus outbreak had spread to several shelters. At least 145 people showed symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea, and 25 were hospitalized, the newspaper said.
“The number of sick people is increasing every day,” Butte County Department of Public Health public information officer Lisa Almaguer added.