Fears of further California fire damage

Fears of further California fire damage

Breaking News

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionFleeing through flames: ‘I’m so scared right now… so terrified’

California firefighters face a possible further spread of several huge fires and more damage as winds strengthen.

A lull on Saturday allowed some containment of the blazes, in the north and south of the state, but officials warned residents to stay away as they could again spread very rapidly.

A search for bodies continues in the devastated northern town of Paradise, where 23 people are known to have died.

Two more people were killed in the southern fire, near Malibu.

An estimated 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to avoid three major blazes in the state.

So far this year an area larger than Belgium and Luxembourg has burned, well above the average.

California Governor Jerry Brown asked US President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster to boost the emergency response and help recovery efforts.

  • In pictures: Wildfire rages in Malibu
  • Watch: The long battle against California wildfires
  • Watch: Why California wildfires are so deadly

In a series of tweets in recent days, Mr Trump has drawn anger by saying that poor forestry management is to blame for the fires.

But he has now extended his sympathies to those affected.

What are the main fires?

The blaze known as the Camp Fire started spreading through Butte County on Thursday, and firefighters were powerless to stop it destroying the town of Paradise.

Another fire swept into the affluent southern beach resort of Malibu on Friday and had doubled in size by Saturday.

Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption Many houses burnt down in Malibu

Known as the Woolsey, it had burned more than 83,000 acres (33,500 hectares) by late that day.

Among the towns under evacuation orders is Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people in a rampage on Wednesday.

Desperate for information

By James Cook, BBC Los Angeles correspondent

In the ruins of Paradise teams are sifting through the ashes, trying to find and identify human remains. The town is no more – more than 6,400 homes were destroyed, in the most destructive wildfire in California’s history – and one of the deadliest.

Those who fled are desperate for information about their homes and loved ones.

In total, 8,000 firefighters are now battling blazes in California. Air quality is atrocious – parents are being warned not to let children play outside.

A quarter of a million people are under evacuation orders.

What is happening with the Camp Fire?

The fire started in the Plumas National Forest, north of Sacramento, on Thursday and quickly engulfed the town of Paradise.

Residents fled for their lives as more than 6,700 homes and businesses were destroyed, making the fire the most destructive in the state’s history. The flames moved so fast that some had to abandon their cars and escape the town on foot.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe Camp Fire has been fuelled by strong winds and dry forest

It is also the state’s third most deadly fire. Nine bodies were found in the immediate aftermath of the destruction, and the remains of another 14 were discovered in later searches.

More than 110 people have been reported missing in the area, but officials are confident many of them will be found safe elsewhere.

Images from Paradise have showed the sky filled with acrid smoke, almost blotting out the sun.

By Saturday night, the Camp Fire had burned 100,000 acres (40,500 hectares) and was only 20% contained.

Winds of up to 40 mph (64 km/h) were expected on Sunday, and officials say the fire could take up to three weeks to be fully contained.

Where is the Woolsey Fire?

The blaze started on Thursday near Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles (64km) north-west of central Los Angeles.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption‘How much more can this town endure?’ – deadly wildfire hits Thousand Oaks, where 12 people were killed in a mass shooting

On Friday, the flames jumped Highway 101 and headed into coastal areas.

All residents have been ordered to evacuate.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Chief John Benedict said on Saturday that two people had been found dead but provided no details on the deaths.

Malibu and nearby Calabasas are home to many celebrities and some have been forced to flee, including Kim Kardashian West, Caitlyn Jenner, Lady Gaga and Guillermo Del Toro.

Firefighters used a respite from strong winds on Saturday to drop fire retardants to strengthen fire lines.

But officials warned against complacency, with winds of up to 70 mph expected over the next two days. They said fires could spread quickly and unexpectedly.

“Winds are already blowing. They are going to blow for the next three days. Your house can be rebuilt but you can’t bring your life back,” said Los Angeles County fire chief Daryl Osby.

Meteorologist David Gomberg told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that fire tornadoes were possible.

What did Mr Trump say?

The president has previously blamed Californian officials for wildfires and threatened to withhold federal funding.

In a tweet on Saturday, he again accused state authorities of “gross mismanagement”.

Evan Westrub, spokesman for state Governor Jerry Brown, hit back, called Mr Trump’s comments “inane and uninformed”.

Celebrities also criticised Mr Trump’s unsympathetic reaction, with California-born singer Katy Perry called it an “absolutely heartless response”.

The region has grappled with serious wildfires in recent years, including the worst in the state’s history – the Mendocino fire in 2018.


Are you in the area or have you been evacuated? If it’s safe to share your experiences, then please email [email protected]

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

  • WhatsApp: +44 7555 173285
  • Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay
  • Send pictures/video to [email protected]
  • Upload your pictures / video here
  • Text an SMS or MMS to 61124 or +44 7624 800 100
  • Please read our terms & conditions and privacy policy

Or use the form below:

Your contact details

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

The BBC’s Privacy Policy