State Watch

228 people missing after Northern California wildfires: authorities

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Authorities on Sunday said 228 people are unaccounted for in Northern California following a devastating wildfire, raising the number of missing people by more than 100 since Saturday.

The wildfire, dubbed the Camp Fire, began Thursday and had officially killed 29 people by Sunday, with that number expected to rise, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a press conference.

“[There are] 228 individuals who have been determined to be unaccounted for,” Honea said at the briefing. “As of this briefing, my office has located 107 people after receiving [around] 550 calls from people looking for loved ones.”

{mosads}He said officials are still “in the process of investigating those calls to determine if those individuals are in fact unaccounted for or perhaps haven’t yet checked in with a family member.” 

Honea reminded attendees that the numbers are “dynamic” and subject to change.

Wildfires devastated areas in Southern and Northern California this week, prompting the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

Officials say the fires are the most destructive in the state’s history and the third-most deadly so far.

Though authorities have not determined the official cause of the enormous fires, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) during a press conference on Sunday said they are “the new abnormal” in the state due to the destructive nature of climate change.

“This is not the new normal,” Brown said at a press conference. “This is the new abnormal, and this new abnormal will continue, certainly in the next 10, 15, 20 years.”

“Unfortunately, the best science is telling us that dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify,” he added. 

Trump on Friday declared a state of emergency in California, but Brown on Sunday asked the president to elevate the declaration to a major disaster declaration in order to leverage more resources.

The wildfires have incinerated huge swaths of property and destroyed thousands of homes. 

Trump multiple times over the weekend blamed the wildfires on “gross mismanagement” of the forests by California state officials, a claim that experts, lawmakers and authorities have vehemently refuted as false.

More federally managed California land endured wildfires than state-managed land in 2017, and the Trump administration has slashed the budget for agencies that deal with forest management. 


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