Fire-frazzled Northern California finally got some good news Sunday: An epic wildfires that ravaged the countryside killed dozens and wiped out thousands of homes was 100% contained.
The Camp Fire – the nation’s deadliest in a century – was contained within 153,336 acres, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
#CampFire [final] Pulga Road at Camp Creek Road near Jarbo Gap (Butte County) is now 100% contained at 153,336 acres. Unified Command: @CALFIRE_ButteCo, @ButteSheriff, Paradise Police Department, and the USFS.https://t.co/CJkryyPNVZ pic.twitter.com/TjMmiLrRQQ
— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) November 25, 2018
The wildfire, which ignited in a rural area Nov. 8 before consuming the town of Paradise and roaring through nearby communities, has left a staggering toll. At least 85 people have been killed; 249 are listed as missing. Nearly 19,000 buildings, most of them homes, have been destroyed.
Thousands of people packing emergency shelters, hotels and campsites have lived in limbo, uncertain whether they will have communities to return to. The blaze has destroyed more structures than the state’s other seven worst wildfires combined.
Fire crews battling the blaze got a boost last week in the form of the first winter storm to hit the state this year. About 7 inches of rain fell over the burn area for three days without causing major mudslides, said Hannah Chandler-Cooley of the National Weather Service.
The wet weather helped extinguish hot spots and enabled responders to ramp up the search for additional victims, particularly in Paradise, a retirement community with a population of 27,000.
Sunday, crews continued sifting through muddy ash for human remains in and around the devastated town. Fire officials fear the death toll will climb as evacuees returning home find bodies in the singed-out shells of their homes.
Search crews pressed on despite the grim task. “The guys will never say it’s hard,” crew member David Kang said. “But it is.”
In Southern California, more residents returned to areas evacuated because of another wildfire as crews repaired power, telephone and gas utilities.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials were in the last phase of repopulating Malibu and unincorporated areas of the county. At the height of the fire, 250,000 fled their homes.
Three people died, and 1,643 buildings, most of them homes, were destroyed.
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