Hundreds of Millions in Damage Estimated in California Fire

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Common theme in fire deaths: hesitance to evacuate.

Future rebuilding efforts after the hundreds of millions of dollars in destruction caused by a wildfire burning north of San Francisco will be an opportunity to improve poor, sparsely populated Lake County, California officials said. “We can and we will make this better. The Monterey County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that a body was found at the site where the Tassajara fire began Saturday afternoon amid windy, hot conditions.

The death toll in a large California wildfire has risen to four, after searchers found a body in the aftermath of a fire that has burned more than 118 square miles and destroyed nearly 2,000 buildings, officials said. I’ve seen it time and time again, disaster after disaster,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

AP FILE PHOTO COBB, California — One more body has been found in a burned-out home in Northern California, bringing the death toll to six from two of the state’s more destructive wildfires in recent memory, authorities said Wednesday. On Wednesday, as authorities revealed they had found a fourth body amid the ruins of a blaze that was described as a fast-moving tornado, they also made clear that at least three of the deaths shared a tragic common element — victims who, for one reason or another, declined to take off immediately when first warned by police, neighbors or loved ones. “It appears they didn’t leave once they received notice to evacuate,” said Lt. Steve Brooks with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. “When they say evacuate, it’s time to go.” It’s not an unusual story in California wildfires. Residents stay because they don’t think the flames will reach them, or because they want to save pets and livestock, or because they want to protect their homes. Lake County sheriff’s officials said they discovered the remains in the hard-hit Cobb area and believe they belong to Robert Taylor Fletcher, 66, who was last seen Sept. 16.

The area was ravaged by the fire, which as of Wednesday was 80 percent contained after destroying 1,325 homes and businesses and blackening 76,000 acres. The bodies of three other people — Bruce Beven Burns, 65, Leonard Neft, 69, and Barbara McWilliams, 72 — were found in the rubble last week, NBC station KCRA reported. On the afternoon of Sept. 12, sheriff’s deputies and fire officials fanned out across the rural roads beneath Cobb Mountain, where the fire started, to sound the alarm. Mark McCloud, 66, and Owen Goldsmith, 82, died after rejecting orders to evacuate their Calaveras County homes, said Lynnette Round, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

In the initial 12 hours, the Valley Fire ripped through hundreds of homes and more than 60 square miles between the communities of Cobb and Middletown. According to his wife, Adela Neft, who was in close contact with him, he received an automated phone call advising him to evacuate but told her it was voluntary. Over the next few hours, Adela Neft said, she continued to monitor the news and finally told her husband, “You need to leave.” But Neft looked out his windows and told her he didn’t see or smell smoke, and that he didn’t think the fire was coming toward him. In their last conversation, a little before 8 p.m., Adela Neft could tell her husband was growing frightened. “He must have saw something,” she said. “I could hear he was scared in his voice.

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