The Latest: Southern California firefighters make some gains
PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on the California wildfires (all times local):
Conditions for firefighting in Southern California were favorable overnight and progress was made, but that’s expected to change.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Lucas Spelman says firefighters have achieved 10 percent containment of the largest of two fires in the region.
Forecasters, however, say the calm conditions will give way sometime Sunday morning to a new and prolonged round of Santa Ana winds, the withering gusts that blow out of the interior toward the coast.
The count of lost structures in both fires has reached 179, but that’s expected to rise as damage assessments continue.
Firefighters battling the third-deadliest wildfire in California record fended off strong winds overnight and increased their handle on the blaze.
California fire spokesman David Clark said Sunday that the Camp Fire grew slightly to 170 square miles (440 square kilometers), from 164 square miles (425 square kilometers) Saturday night.
It is now 25 percent contained, up from 20 percent Saturday.
Clark says crews are at a “pivotal point” and that high winds and dry conditions similar to when the fire started Thursday are expected for the next 24 hours.
The fire has destroyed more than 6,700 buildings, nearly all of them homes, and killed 23 people.
A pair of fires burning in Southern California has killed two and 250,000 remain under evacuation orders.
Authorities called in a mobile DNA lab and anthropologists to help identify the dead as the search went on for victims of the most destructive wildfire in California history. The death toll stood at 23 Sunday and appeared likely to climb.
With the town of Paradise reduced to a smoking ruin and the fire still raging in surrounding communities, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the Northern California county was bringing in a fifth search and recovery team.
An anthropology team from California State University at Chico was also assisting, because in some cases “the only remains we are able to find are bones or bone fragments.”
The department compiled a list of 110 people unaccounted for, but officials held out hope that many were safe but had no cellphones or some other way to contact loved ones.