Firefighters battling California’s deadliest fire on record continued to make progress Friday, with containment growing to 95% and the number of homes burned at nearly 14,000.
The Camp fire has scorched more than 153,000 acres and killed at least 84 people in Butte County, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials. But hundreds of residents are still missing, and thousands more have been displaced by the massive blaze.
The death toll from the Camp fire rose by one Thursday to 84, on a day when rain seemed to halt further growth of the state’s deadliest blaze.
By Thursday evening, the Jarbo Gap, where the fire probably started, had received just over an inch of rain in the preceding 24 hours, according to the National Weather Service. Rain totals varied across the region.
Schools in Malibu survived the Woolsey fire almost intact but they got very dirty, and cleanup efforts will keep campuses closed even as residents are allowed to return to their properties.
The fire killed three people, burned 97,000 acres and destroyed 1,500 structures. Malibu’s four schools have been closed since Nov. 9, when they were included in the mandatory evacuation zones.
The tentative date to reopen Webster Elementary is Nov. 28. Point Dume Marine Science School is scheduled to reopen Dec. 3. Juan Cabrillo Elementary School should be ready between Dec. 3 and Dec. 5, pending results of air testing inside and outside for traces of lead, asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Malibu High will be back in business between Dec. 4 and Dec. 10
Times photographer Marcus Yam shared on Twitter a very personal photo essay about the victims of Paradise.
“This #thanksgiving we should to take a moment for the victims of the #CampFire,” he wrote. “So many families will not be spending #Thanksgiving in the comfort of their own homes. Take a moment to think about them.
Some put up Christmas/Thanksgiving decorations on their cars, somehow expecting to not transition out quick enough. Some give their pets (like this bearded dragon) some time to warm up in the sun. #campfire#walmartpic.twitter.com/eVt5j3dTwK
I was struck by this scene: single mom Ashley Widdick, 24, reading a book about dinosaurs to her son CJ, 3, in their car. She was determined to make this a positive experience for him. They recently moved from L.A. to Paradise and she had started a new job, before #CampFire. pic.twitter.com/byoKAmJUMS
Cal Fire officials said Tuesday that $589.7 million has been paid out by the state’s fire emergency, or “e-fund,” account since July 1. Officials are poised to free up additional dollars before lawmakers consider a new state budget early next year.
Butte County Dist. Atty. Mike Ramsey warned that scam artists are targeting Paradise fire victims seeking to rent housing.
"We have seen people who have no right to a particular apartment that go and rent out that apartment and take people's money. Be very careful. Red flag: If it's too good to be true, it is," Ramsey said.
Another scam already happening are fraudulent GoFundMe websites seeking contributions for fire victims, he said. "We encourage folks to go to the Butte County website to take a look at areas where you can legitimately and safely give your charitable dollars to," he said.
Rapid DNA analysis is being used to identify dozens of California fire victims burned beyond recognition. Of 83 victims, sheriff's officials have made tentative identifications on 58 of them, but they await DNA confirmation.
"We're working diligently to identify those individuals so that we can contact their next of kin and notify them," said Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.
It used to be that DNA analysis could take months before answers would firm up, but now DNA analysis can be done within a matter of hours, Jim Davis of Ande, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in rapid DNA analysis, said at a press conference in Chico on Wednesday.