The death toll from the wildfire that’s been raging in Paradise, California since Thursday morning has reached 25. Officials reported Saturday that the remains of 14 people have been found in and around Paradise, and two more in Malibu. Circumstances surrounding the deaths were not immediately available, and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott Maclean said burns to the bodies of the victims made identification difficult. Mobile DNA units are expected to be used for this purpose. Another 110 people are missing, according to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.
The two Malibu victims were found inside a car on a long residential driveway on Mulholland Highway, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Chief John Benedict. The home is located along a picturesque, winding stretch of the highway where rocks and power lines lay on the ground, some still on fire Saturday.
The Paradise fire has burned down a record 6,700 homes and businesses, more than any California fire on record. Latest reports on Saturday indicated that the Paradise fire covered 105,000 acres and was only 20 percent contained, according to The Guardian. The wildfire is expected to continue to spread with a forecast that includes increased winds.
The fire in Woolsey was described as zero percent contained and has destroyed at least 177 homes and businesses. It covers 83,000 acres, but the spread of this fire is expected to slow as weather experts are predicting that the dry Santa Ana winds that pushed it across so much land in recent days will die down in coming days.
Californian fires death toll increases to 25 after the discovery of 14 more bodies in the town of Paradise. https://t.co/ivd6MwLcNm— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) November 11, 2018
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters that the most recent fires were the “most extreme and toughest he had seen.” The fight against its spread and destruction involved 900 firefighters and every available local resource Saturday night, but even that wasn’t enough, as he explained that backup teams were being called in from Arizona and a request would likely be made to state and federal agencies for additional assistance.
President Trump announced recently that federal funds would be provided to assist in fighting the California fires, but he also criticized the state in a tweet, blaming the fires on poor management.
“There was no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is poor,” Trump tweeted.
He went on to threaten pulling federal funds if management did not improve. Following widespread criticism for his remarks, the president issued another comment.
“Our hearts are with those fighting the fires… and the families of the 11 who have died. The destruction is catastrophic. God Bless them all.”