Friday, 13 October 2017

Death toll increases to 31 as North California wildfire lingers

 The initial report of 10 fatalities has leaped to 31, following the massive wildfires which began on Tuesday evening and continues to sweep through multiple counties in North California and has damaged thousands of homes, businesses and other buildings, ABC News reports.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, as of Thursday morning, firefighters were still battling 21 large wildfires in multiple counties. The strong wind-intensified fire has sparked flames which have ravaged more than 190,000 acres of land, destroyed at least 3,500 structures and recorded over 20,000 residential evacuations.

It is imperative to note that the death toll from the fire which has its bulk of fatalities occurred in Sonoma County alone, has exceeded the number of fatalities in the 1933 Griffith Park Fire in Los Angeles, the deadliest wildfire in California history, officials said.

About 400 people were unaccounted for in Sonoma County as of Thursday morning, according to the sheriff's office. Out of about 1,000 missing people reports that have been filed since the fires began, about 600 people have been safely located, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said Thursday afternoon. Officials said some of the reports of missing persons may be duplicates.

At least 7,000 people were without power Wednesday in Napa County.

In the wake of the fires, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday morning that it has arrested five people for looting in evacuation areas.

Three of the individuals were Santa Rosa natives who were arrested and booked on a number of offenses. A 28-year-old man was found with two stolen bikes as well as narcotics, police said. A 48-year-old woman and a 49-year-old woman were also arrested, according to the Santa Rosa Police Department.

However, officials have also confirmed that containment of the fire has increased, and weather conditions are expected to improve overnight, with causes still yet unknown.

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