California Wildfires: Death Toll Hits 77

The toll from the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history rose further to 77 on Sunday, the sheriff’s office said.

“One human remain was located today,” raising the toll by one in the so-called Camp Fire which broke out 10 days earlier in northern California, a statement from the Butte County Sheriff said, following US President Donald Trump’s visit on Saturday to survey the devastation.

The number of people unaccounted for has fallen to 993, from a peak that exceeded 1,200, the statement added.

On Sunday, mourners gathered at First Christian Church in Chico, near the incinerated community of Paradise, to hold a tearful vigil for the fire’s victims.

“We will rise from the ashes,” said a sign on the altar of the church, where survivors embraced, and one woman carried a picture of her father who died.

“Of the 77 fatalities, we have tentatively identified 67 individuals,” the sheriff’s office said.

Another three people died in a second major blaze that struck the more well-off Malibu area adjacent to Hollywood, where the film industry paid tribute to the fire victims on Sunday night at its annual honorary Oscars event.

“Many thousands of our fellow Americans are homeless,” the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, John Bailey, said in his opening address to the annual Governors Awards ceremony.

“Some of our own history was lost,” Bailey added, referring to the fire that hit Paramount Ranch, which hosts a screening of silent films.

Further north, more than 10,000 homes have been destroyed in the Camp Fire blaze which has devoured an area roughly the size of Chicago, and essentially wiped Paradise off the map.

The National Weather Service said low humidity and gusty winds would continue across portions of California through Monday but the pattern could change as America prepares for Thanksgiving Thursday.

California, the largest and wealthiest US state, is regularly plagued by wildfires, but the Camp Fire has been unprecedented.

After burning 150,000 acres (61,000 hectares) the Camp Fire is now 65 percent contained and will not be fully under control until month’s end, said the California fire service, which has deployed more than 5,000 personnel and 28 helicopters in the battle.

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