Authorities in California say the death toll from a series of wildfires burning across California is now at 25 and climbing rapidly.
The Associated Press reports that hundreds of people remain missing, many of them from the town of Paradise, in Northern California, which was “virtually incinerated” in the wildfires. “Authorities called in a mobile DNA lab and anthropologists to help identify victims of the most destructive wildfire in California history,” the AP reports, noting that nearly all of the town’s 27,000 residents are now without homes.
“More than 8,000 firefighters in all battled three large wildfires burning across nearly 400 square miles (1,040 square kilometers) in Northern and Southern California, with out-of-state crews continuing to arrive and gusty, blowtorch winds starting up again,” the AP reports.
Around 300,000 people statewide are under orders to evacuate their homes. The Camp Fire alone, which claimed Paradise in its entirety, has burned 105,000 acres and destroyed more than 6,700 homes and businesses.
Fires are also burning in Southern California, and celebrities like Gerard Butler and Shannon Doherty have lost their homes, USA Today reports. A fire in Malibu has consumed around 130 acres already, and burned 140 structures, and authorities say it is only around 10% contained.
“Returned to my house in Malibu after evacuating,” Butler wrote on Twitter, under a photograph of himself standing in front of the charred remains of his property. “Inspired as ever by the courage, spirit and sacrifice of firefighters. Thank you @LAFD.”
Butler took viewers on a small tour of what remained of his large home on Instagram.
“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Camille Grammer was also among the 150 or so Malibu residents who lost their homes. Grammer posted a shocking photo of flames consuming her home on Instagram, saying she was simply grateful that her family was safe.
“Luckily we quickly evacuated our house yesterday after a patrol car drove up the street announcing mandatory evacuations,” she wrote. “I’m grateful for my lovely neighbors and friends who kept me informed and for their help this evening.”
Massive tankers have been called in to help fight the blaze, and California governor Jerry Brown now says he’ll ask for help from the Trump Administration, even though the governor has been prickly on the subject of President Donald Trump who, just days ago, blamed California’s “poor management” for the fire.
Brown told a press conference Sunday that he believes global warming — and not poor forest management — is responsible for the spread of California wildfires.
“Managing all the forests in everywhere we can does not stop climate change,” Brown told reporters. “And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we’re now witnessing, and will continue to witness in the coming years.”
Firefighters say that while temperatures have been warmer, homes are being built deeper into the California forests, making them more susceptible to forest fires. California also remains dry; although the state just emerged from a drought, many areas are still recovering.