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At least 26 people died in the fires that have devoured tens of thousands of acres in California, where winds are likely to spread even more flames, said authorities Sunday.
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Over 250,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in a wide region near Sacramento, the capital of this western State of the United States, and in the famous beach resort of Malibu.
Firefighters are battling fires at both ends of the State: the “Camp Fire” in the county of Butte, where there is the largest hearth, which has killed at least 23 people; and the “Woolsey Fire” around Los Angeles and Malibu, where two bodies were found inside a vehicle.
An AFP journalist was also seen Sunday, a body carried away in a body bag blue by the authorities in Magalia, near the town of Paradise, bringing the balance to at least 26 people dead.
The firefighters who are fighting the “Woolsey Fire” “prepare for the return of the dangerous Santa Ana winds (hot winds and dry from the interior) that could extend the flames”, according to a press release of the authorities.
“Today we have more than 8,000 firefighters federal, State and local on the front lines”, said in a press conference a head of the agency of the fire department of California CalFire, Scott Jalbert. “Unfortunately, with these winds, it is not finished. So please, be careful”, he added.
The most destructive
Powered by winds, the “Camp Fire”, which started Thursday, has become the most destructive ever recorded in California, with more than 6.700 buildings –including a hospital and homes– destroyed Paradise, a city of 27,000 people north of Sacramento.
The fire has, for the moment, consumed more than 40,000 hectares and is mastered at 25%, according to CalFire.
The authorities consider that it will take three weeks to have full control over the flames in this area.
The cause of the fire has not been identified. According to the newspaper Sacramento Bee, the local officials of the electric grid have indicated to the authorities in california that a failure had occurred near the place where it started.
The authorities have warned that the spread of the fires was more rapid than in the past.
“There are 10 or 20 years, you stay in your homes when there was a fire and you were able to protect them”, told the press the fire chief of Ventura county, Mark Lawrenson.
But “things are not what they were. The rate of propagation is exponentially higher than what it was. I beg you, heed evacuation orders. Don’t stay home”, he launched.
President Donald Trump, on a trip to France for the ceremonies of the centenary of the armistice of the First world War, has attracted criticism after offending Saturday on Twitter the management of forests, “so bad” and threatened to cut off federal funds if it had not been improved.
This tweet is “ill-informed, inappropriate, and humiliating for all those who suffer as well as for men and women on the front line,” said Brian Rice, head of the firefighters union in california, calling it “dangerously false” the assertion referring to a bad management of the forests.
Mr. Trump then shows more empathy, tweeting: “our hearts are with those who fight the fires” as well as with the evacuees and the families of the victims.
But Sunday, he again tweeted: “with the proper management of the forest, we can stop the devastation that constantly strikes California. Be smart!”.
In Southern California, other fires raged on the main north of Los Angeles and another in Ventura county near Thousand Oaks, where a former military opened fire on Wednesday evening in a bar in the city, killing twelve people before committing suicide.
Some 200,000 people, of which all the inhabitants of Malibu, near Los Angeles, where many celebrities, have been ordered to evacuate.
Since Thursday afternoon, “Woolsey” has devoured more than 30,000 hectares and destroyed at least 177 buildings and was cured to 10% on Sunday morning, according to Cal Fire.
The fire has also destroyed filming locations used for hundreds of productions, including the HBO series “Westworld”.
California has been hit since the end of the year 2017 by many fires, the murderers, made particularly hard by drought and winds.