News ID: 234415
Published: 0351 GMT November 17, 2018

Trump departs for California as wildfire death toll rises

Trump departs for California as wildfire death toll rises
Volunteers set up camp for California wildfire evacuees outside a supermarket in Chico, near the devastated community of Paradise.

President Donald Trump left Washington, D.C., on Saturday for California after the death toll from California's Camp Fire climbed to 71 and the number of people unaccounted for jumped to more than 1,000, reported.

The deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history, the so-called Camp Fire, has now claimed 71 lives after authorities found eight additional sets of human remains.

The fire has devoured an area roughly the size of Chicago.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told reporters the number of people unaccounted for almost doubled from 631 to 1,011 in 24 hours as authorities received more reports of people missing, and as emergency calls made when the fire broke out are reviewed, AFP reported.

"I want you to understand that this is a dynamic list," he told reporters. He said that on a positive note, 329 people who had been listed as missing since the fire broke out had so far been accounted for.

"The information I am providing you is raw data and we find there is the likely possibility that the list contains duplicate names," he said, adding that some people who had escaped could be unaware they were listed as missing.


Paradise lost


The inferno erupted November 8, laying waste to the town of Paradise at the northern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and sending thousands fleeing.

Trump would "meet with individuals impacted by the wildfires," a White House spokeswoman said, but in an interview with Fox News ahead of his trip, the president said he was going "just to see the firefighters."

In the interview he also reiterated an earlier claim that mismanagement of California's forests was to blame for the fires, though he acknowledged climate change may have contributed "a little bit."

"You need forest management. It has to be," Trump told Fox.

Democratic Governor Jerry Brown's administration and President Trump's Republicans have repeatedly clashed over issues including environmental and immigration regulations, as well as "net neutrality" governing access to the internet.

Days ago Trump threatened to cut federal funding to California over its alleged "gross mismanagement" of forests but late Friday he tweeted that he was looking forward to meeting Brown and his newly-elected successor Gavin Newsom.

"We are with you!" Trump said.

The Camp Fire has burned 146,000 acres (59,000 hectares) and was 50 percent contained by Friday, California's fire service said.

Authorities said 47,200 people had been evacuated because of the fire and nearly 1,200 were living in shelters.



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