Trump to visit California as number of missing reaches 1000 amid wildfires

Trump to visit California as number of missing reaches 1000 amid wildfires

Remains of at least 71 people have been recovered so far in and around the Sierra foothills hamlet of Paradise, which was home to almost 27,000 residents before the town was largely incinerated by the deadly Camp Fire on the night of November 8.

Authorities are blaming the high death toll and widespread destruction on the lightning-fast speed of the flames, which were driven by high winds through the parched land.

Almost 12,000 homes and buildings, including most of the town, were incinerated on the night of November 15-hours after the blaze erupted, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) has said.

The town of 27,000 residents has been completely destroyed and all that is left is an expanse of smouldering ruins, twisted wreckage and debris. An army of firefighters, many from distant states, were still trying to contain and suppress the flames.

The revised list of 630 people whose whereabouts and fate remained unknown is more than double the 297 listed earlier in the day by the Butte County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities compiled the list by going back to listen to all the dispatch calls they had received since the fire started, to make sure they didn't miss anyone.

The California Fire Department says it has now contained about 40% of the Camp Fire blaze.

The sheriff has asked relatives of the missing to submit DNA samples to hasten identification of the dead. But he acknowledged some of those unaccounted for may never be conclusively found.

In fire-stricken Southern California, meanwhile, more residents were being allowed back in their homes near Los Angeles after a blaze torched an area the size of Denver and destroyed more than 600 homes and other structures.

The utility was found to be responsible for several devastating fires in northern California last fall that killed at least 15 people, and it faces billions of dollars in liability for the latest wildfires.

The cause of the fires are under investigation.

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Trump to visit fire victims: US President Donald Trump will travel to California on Saturday to meet with people who have been impacted by the wildfires, the White House said in a statement.

But smoke and soot spread far and wide.

Public schools in Sacramento and districts 90 miles to the south, and as far away as San Francisco and Oakland, said classes on November 16 would be canceled as the Camp Fire worsened air quality.

At a shelter set in a church in nearby Oroville, a bulletin board was plastered with dozens of photos of missing people, along with messages and phone numbers. Part of the lot was roped off as a distribution center for clothes, food and coffee.

"We call it Wally World", Flanagan said, a riff off the store name.

That led authorities to devise a staggered evacuation plan - one that they used when fire came again last week.

The blaze destroyed almost 8,800 homes in the former gold mining settlement.

"It's cold and scary", said Lilly Batres, 13, one of the few children there, who fled with her family from the forested town of Magalia and did not know whether her home survived.

But Stacy Lazzarino, who voted for Trump, said it would be good for the president to see the devastation up close: "I think by maybe seeing it he's going to be like 'Oh, my goodness, ' and it might start opening people's eyes".

"You need management", he added, and then said, "I'm not saying that in a negative way, a positive - I'm just saying the facts".

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