Wildfires continued to terrorise the state of California during the weekend, with the death toll tragically rising to 42. Californians find themselves in a state of shock as thousands of people were evacuated from the area.
On top of the 42 people confirmed dead, over 220 people are still unaccounted for as Buttle County’s authorities were forced to call in a mobile DNA lab to identify the remains of the victims. Relatives are left desperately searching shelters for their loved ones, with many of whom having to hold out for hope that they were safe and had no way to contact them.
The sheriff’s office in the stricken northern county set up a missing-persons call centre to help connect people.
California Governor Jerry Brown requested aid from the Trump administration, who has blamed “poor” forest management for the fires. However, Brown believes that this was not the source of the problem but did admit that both federal and state governments must do more to prevent similar disasters from happening in the future.
“Managing all the forests everywhere we can does not stop climate change,” Brown said. “And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we’re now witnessing, and will continue to witness in the coming years.”
Brown’s request for a major-disaster declaration from Trump would make victims eligible for crisis counselling, housing and unemployment help, and legal aid.
More than 8,000 firefighters in all battled three large wildfires burning across well over 100 square miles in Northern and Southern California. In Northern California, Sheriff Kory Honea said the devastation was so enormous that “it’s very difficult to determine whether or not there may be human remains there.” Along with hundreds missing, more than 7,000 buildings have been set ablaze and destroyed over the past two days.
With 42 confirmed dead, the California fire has surpassed the 1933 Griffith Park fires in Los Angeles where 29 people lost their lives. It is the second deadliest wildfire experienced in the United States, only topped by a series of wildfires in Northern California wine country last fall which took the lives of 44 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes.
Around 150,000 people statewide were under evacuation orders as California’s Fire Department tries to halt the devastating wildfire.