LOS ANGELES, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — Death toll from Northern California’s raging wildfire, dubbed Camp Fire, climbed to nine, Butte County Sheriff Korey Honea said at a press conference Friday night.
A spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) confirmed to Xinhua the fatalities by phone interview as well, adding that the fire had scorched over 90,000 acres (364.2 square km) with only 5 percent containment and “there have been more evacuations.”
Rich Carhart, the Cal Fire’s public information officer, also told Xinhua that the fire had destroyed more than 6,700 structures, including 6,453 homes and 260 commercial buildings as of Friday morning.
That means the blaze became the most destructive wildfire in California state history. By comparison, the next most destructive fire, the Tubbs Fire in October 2017 in Napa and Sonoma Counties, destroyed 5,636 structures.
At the press conference live showed online, Honea gave more details about the death, saying among the earlier reported five victims, four were killed in vehicles torched by flames while a fifth was found dead outside of a vehicle.
The four more dead confirmed Friday evening were all found in city of Paradise, one inside a residence and three outside homes, he said, adding that none of the victims have been identified yet.
“I certainly understand there are people in our community who are aching to know what has come of their friends and family members,” Honea said. “This can be a long process in terms of identifying people and making notifications to the next of kin.”
The fatal wildfire erupted on Thursday morning. Then in six hours it devoured Paradise, a town located 150 km north of Sacramento, forcing tens of thousands residents fled the foothill town and leaving at least dozens trapped there.
Videos posted online showed that houses located downtown were engulfed in flames one by one, the blaze was torching trees and houses along the highway when residents fled. Some desperate drivers abandoned their vehicles, forcing emergency personnel to push cars off the few roads leading to safety.
The sheriff’s office received many reports of fatalities due to the fire, and investigators are still working to confirm the reports, Sheriff Honea said in a press release issued Friday Morning.
“The task is difficult as the fire is still active and there are many hazards in areas where fatalities have been reported,” he noted.
The sheriff encouraged residents to check safeandwell.org to locate their loved ones, or contact the office at 5305387322 to request a welfare check or file a missing person’s report.