California wildfire: Death toll rises to 42, dozens still missing as firefighting efforts continue

Los Angeles: About 5,000 firefighters were still battling 10 wildfires in California on Monday, and the authorities said they hope to have many of them fully contained in the next few days.

File image of smoke and flames from fire at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel in Santa Rosa, California. AP

File image of smoke and flames from fire at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel in Santa Rosa, California. AP

The death toll remained at 42, meanwhile, from the deadliest blazes in the history of the sprawling western US state.

The wildfires ignited on 8 October and as many as 11,000 firefighters — some from as far away as Australia — were involved at one point in battling move than two dozen large blazes.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (Cal Fire) said on Monday that only 10 active fires remained, "many of which are projected to be fully contained within the next few days."

Cal Fire warned, however, that there was "potential high fire activity" in southern California due to gusty winds and low humidity.

Cal Fire said the wildfires had burned more than 99,150 hectares, forced the evacuation of 100,000 people and destroyed an estimated 8,400 homes and businesses.

The highest death toll was in wine-producing Sonoma County, where 22 people lost their lives.

Entire neighborhoods of Santa Rosa, population 175,000, the county seat of Sonoma, were razed to the ground.

Forest fires are common in the western United States during the summer, but this year's blazes in California are the deadliest series of fires to hit the state.
The Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles County in 1933 killed at least 29 people, and 25 people died in the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.

Updated Date: Oct 24, 2017 11:42 AM

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