Rebuilding Paradise: California town devastated by fire looks to future

Rebuilding Paradise: California town devastated by fire looks to future
Trump visits fire-scorched California as 1,200 still unaccounted for
President Donald Trump arrived in northern California on Saturday to see first-hand the grief and devastation from the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century amid confusion over how many people remain unaccounted for. 

The tour came as firefighters raced to get ahead of strong winds expected overnight and authorities struggled to locate 1,276 people who were listed as missing.

As WWE rolls into Los Angeles for NXT TakeOver: WarGames and Survivor Series, we encourage our fans to donate to the Red Cross and LA Fire Department Foundation to support first responders and to help the relief effort for the victims of the recent California wildfires. Your donation will go toward providing food and shelter for those displaced by the fires or needed hydration backpacks for firefighters working to contain the wildfires.  To donate to the Red Cross or LA Fire Department Foundation, please visit redcross.org or call 1-800-Red-Cross or visit SupportLAFD.org

Authorities stressed that not all on the list are believed to be gone — many likely survived but have not yet notified family or authorities, either because they lack phone service or were unaware anyone was looking for them, officials said. But the death toll has nevertheless risen daily, standing at 79.

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California's outgoing and incoming governors joined Trump as he surveyed the devastation in the town of Paradise, population 27,000, and visited a firefighting command centre. Gov. Jerry Brown and governor-elect Gavin Newsom had welcomed Trump's visit, declaring it's time "to pull together for the people of California."

Later in the day, Trump touched down in Southern California, where three people died in separate wildfires that tore through Malibu and communities west of Los Angeles, and where a mass shooting at a country bar recently left 13 dead. Trump was scheduled to tour some of the areas scorched by the fires and then meet with families affected by the shooting.

Those who lost their homes or were looking for loved ones were also busy on Saturday — some trying to pack up at a makeshift camp next to a Walmart in the Northern California city of Chico. No one there appeared to be paying close attention to Trump's visit, with evacuees saying they were told to leave by Sunday.

Heres what we know and dont know about the Camp Fire

Maggie Missere-Crowder said if Trump came to the Walmart, she would shake his hand, but she otherwise needed to focus on getting her tent and plastic storage boxes with food and other items into her pickup truck.

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Missere-Crowder, 61, and her husband fled their home in Magalia, a community near Paradise that also was devastated, and planned to go to a shelter in Yuba City, about an hour's drive from the Walmart.

She said she was angry about Trump's tweet two days after the disaster blaming forest mismanagement for the fire, a sentiment he repeated just before his visit that has stirred resentment among survivors.

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"Like we've done it on purpose. It's like a slap in the face," Missere-Crowder said.

California's outgoing and incoming governors joined Trump as he surveyed the devastation in the town of Paradise, population 27,000, and visited a firefighting command centre. Gov. Jerry Brown and governor-elect Gavin Newsom had welcomed Trump's visit, declaring it's time "to pull together for the people of California."

Trump tours Paradise area, calls wildfire a really bad one

Still, she said that if she met him, she would say, "Think about what you're saying, because it takes away from all the good stuff you're doing."

Other residents, however, gathered on street corners  with Trump flags on Saturday to greet the president's motorcade.The fire zone in northern California is to some extent Trump country. Trump beat Hillary Clinton by four percentage points in Butte County in 2016. 

June Busalacchi, 57, and her husband, Steve, 56, came to a Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance centre at the Chico Mall to see if some friends they haven't heard from were there. The Trump voters also hoped the president would show up.

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"He's going to get these guys, and no pun intended, get a fire under them," he said, referring to state officials in California. "They need to protect people, not just in big cities."

Asked about Trump's insistence that forest management was to blame for the blaze, Steve Busalacchi said comments like that are how you motivate people to address problems.

While the number of people unaccounted for has grown to more than 1,000, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea acknowledged that the list was "dynamic" and could easily contain duplicate names and unreliable spellings of names.

Video: Trump lands in California to tour deadly wildfire devastation

The blaze that started Nov. 8 destroyed more than 9,800 homes. Thousands of personnel were battling the blaze that covered about 600 square kilometres and was halfway contained, officials said.

As smoke from the fires continued to blanket many areas in northern California, firefighters were racing against time with winds up to 64 km/h and low humidity expected Saturday night into Sunday.

Maggie Missere-Crowder said if Trump came to the Walmart, she would shake his hand, but she otherwise needed to focus on getting her tent and plastic storage boxes with food and other items into her pickup truck.

Rain was forecast for midweek, which could help firefighters but also complicate the challenging search for remains.

She said she was angry about Trump's tweet two days after the disaster blaming forest mismanagement for the fire, a sentiment he repeated just before his visit that has stirred resentment among survivors.

Trump heads to Malibu to survey wildfire destruction to celebrity haven after visiting Paradise

While the number of people unaccounted for has grown to more than 1,000, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea acknowledged that the list was "dynamic" and could easily contain duplicate names and unreliable spellings of names.

"He's going to get these guys, and no pun intended, get a fire under them," he said, referring to state officials in California. "They need to protect people, not just in big cities."

Video: Hundreds still missing in Californias Camp Fire

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The roster probably includes some who fled the blaze and do not realize they have been reported missing, he said.

"We are still receiving calls. We're still reviewing emails," Honea said Friday. "This is a massive undertaking. We have hundreds and hundreds of people working on this."

Michelle Mack Couch, 49, lost the home she was renting in Paradise and helped patients escape through a wall of flames as an employee at a nursing facility.

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"Let's hope he gets us some help," the Trump voter said at an emergency assistance centre, where she was trying to get a walker for her 72-year-old mom.

But as far as watching the president's visit, she said wryly, "We don't have a TV anymore."

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Sad Trump visits fire-wracked California, blames mismanagement

Forensic recovery teams searched for more victims in the charred wreckage of the northern California town of Paradise on Saturday as the number of people listed as missing in the state’s deadliest wildfire topped 1,000.

President Donald Trump visited the devastated small community in the Sierra foothills, 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco, where authorities say the remains of at least 71 people have been recovered.

Paradise was home to nearly 27,000 residents before it was largely incinerated by the blaze on the night of Nov. 8.

“Nobody could have thought this would ever happen,” Trump told reporters amid the charred wreckage of the town’s Skyway Villa Mobile Home and RV Park.

“This is very sad to see. As far as the lives are concerned, nobody knows quite yet,” Trump said. “Right now we want to take care of the people who have been so badly hurt.”

Trump was flanked by California Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom. Brown said the federal government was doing what it needed to do, including supporting first responders and helping with clean-up and search for victims.

The disaster already ranks among the deadliest U.S. wildfires since the turn of the last century. Eighty-seven people perished in the Big Burn firestorm that swept the Northern Rockies in August of 1910. Minnesota’s Cloquet Fire in October of 1918 killed 450 people.

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Trump has blamed the recent spate of fires on forest mismanagement, and he said he discussed the issue with Brown and Newsom on the ride into Paradise.

Death toll from California wildfires rises to 71 after eight more bodies found, while more than 1,000 on missing list

“I don’t think we’ll have this again to this extent,” Trump said of the fire. “Hopefully this is going to be the last of these because this was a really, really bad one.”

Asked whether the scenes of devastation had changed his view on climate change, Trump said: “No. I have a strong opinion. I want great climate and we’re going to have that and we’re going to have forests that are very safe.”

Trump says California wildfires have not changed his mind on climate change | Watch News Videos Online

Authorities attribute the high death toll from the blaze – dubbed “Camp Fire” – partly to the speed with which flames raced through the town with little warning, driven by howling winds and fueled by drought-desiccated scrub and trees.

More than a week later, firefighters have managed to carve containment lines around 55 percent of the blaze’s perimeter. The fire covered 148,000 acres (60,000 hectares), fire officials said.

Besides the toll on human life, property losses from the blaze make it the most destructive in California history, posing the additional challenge of providing long-term shelter for many thousands of displaced residents.

With more than 9,700 homes up in smoke, many refugees have taken up temporary residence with friends and family, while others have pitched tents or were living out of their vehicles.

At least 1,100 evacuees were being housed in 14 emergency shelters set up in churches, schools and community centers around the region, with a total of more than 47,000 people remaining under evacuation orders, authorities said.

Several shelters are full and, although authorities say they still have space for everyone, hundreds of people have been camping in tents and cars in the area.

Search teams with cadaver dogs have combed through rubble-strewn expanses of burned-out neighborhoods looking for bodies.

On Friday night, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the remains of eight more fire victims were recovered during the day, bringing the death toll to 71.

Honea said the total roster of people unaccounted for had swelled to 1,011 – more than triple the number counted as missing on Thursday afternoon.

“This is a dynamic list,” Honea told reporters, saying it was compiled from “raw data” that likely included some duplications or multiple spellings of names.

Honea bristled when asked whether many of those listed at this point, more than a week after the disaster, were expected to end up either deceased or declared missing and presumed dead.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for any of us to sit and speculate about what the future holds,” he said. As of Friday, he said, 329 individuals previously reported missing had turned up alive.

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The names were being compiled from information received from a special hotline, along with email reports and a review of emergency 911 calls that came in on the first night of the fire, Honea said.

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Some listed have likely survived but not yet notified family or authorities. Others may not have been immediately listed because of delays in reporting them.

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Weather conditions have since turned more to firefighters’ favor, though strong, gusty winds and lower humidity were expected to return late on Saturday through early Sunday ahead of rain forecast for mid-week.

The outbreak of Camp Fire coincided with a series of smaller blazes in Southern California, most notably the Woolsey Fire, which is linked to three fatalities and has destroyed at least 500 structures near the Malibu coast west of Los Angeles. It was 78 percent contained on Friday night.

Scientists have said the growing frequency and intensity of wildfires in California and elsewhere across the West are largely attributable to prolonged drought that is symptomatic of climate change.

The precise causes of the Camp and Woolsey Fires were under investigation, but electric utilities have reported equipment problems in the vicinity of both blazes around the time they erupted.