Trump Says Disastrous California Wildfires Caused 'Catastrophic Destruction'

California wildfire leaves town in ruins, thousands flee
California wildfires force hundreds of thousands to evacuate, claim lives

11 November, 2018

US President Donald Trump put the death toll at 11 on Saturday evening - a count that seemed set to rise with bodies being recovered in Paradise.

Locals fled the danger, but police told AFP some farmers returned to check on their cattle.

"Heavenly father, please help us, please help us to be safe", Chatfield says in footage obtained by the Daily Mail, her voice cracking as flames lick the pavement and smoke obscures the roadway ahead.

California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to provide assistance to the fire-hit areas.

According to Cal Fire, the fire has grown into 100,000 acres and was 20 percent contained by Saturday morning.

An additional 35 people have been reported missing and three firefighters have been injured.

They estimate they will need three weeks to fully contain the blaze. Trump wrote on his Twitter page on late Saturday.

Based on the estimated number of structures destroyed in this fire, it will become one for the record books as one of the most destructive fires in California history.

Trump early on Saturday tweeted that "gross mismanagement of forests" was to blame for the two unchecked wildfires.

In Ventura County, most of the town of Thousand Oaks was ordered evacuated, adding to the anguish days after a gunman killed 12 people in a shooting rampage at a bar.

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It also shows smoke from the Hill and Woolsey Fires in southern California, which by Saturday morning had burned 4,531 acres and about 70,000 acres, respectively.

About 500 miles (800 km) to the south, the Woolsey Fire burning in the foothills above Malibu doubled in size overnight, threatening thousands of homes after triggering mandatory evacuation orders for a quarter million people in the oceanside city as well as other communities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

"We do intend to rebuild", Paradise Mayor Jody Jones said. "We pretty much had enough time to get the dogs in the trunk".

The bodies of two people have been discovered in Malibu but it is unclear whether their deaths were caused by fire.

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, who lives just north of coastal Malibu, revealed she was forced to flee her home. An anthropology team from California State University, Chico was helping with that effort, he said. "I just pray the winds are in our favour".

In Paradise, the flames destroyed hundreds of homes, a hospital, a gas station, several restaurants and numerous vehicles, officials said.

Trump, a Republican, has previously blamed California officials for fires and threatened to withhold funding, saying the state should do more to remove rotten trees and other debris that fuel blazes.

"The whole lower side of Paradise is totally engulfed in flames right now", Kevin Winstead, a resident of nearby Magalia, told KIEM TV.

Malibu, CA, USA; A chimney is all that is left standing in one home on Deerhead Road.

More firefighters headed to the area Saturday, with wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour expected, raising the risk of conditions similar to those when the fire started Thursday, said Alex Hoon with the National Weather Service.

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