California forest fires roar, driving 250,000 people out of their homes in LA

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Wild flames in Southern California approached coastal homes along the famous Pacific Coast Highway in the Malibu area. Footage of the wind-driven wildfire was taken by a crew aboard a Firehawk helicopter from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
USA TODAY

Malibu, California – The firefighters hoped that a brief lull in the howling wind would give them a chance on Saturday to block one of the two massive California fires that killed nine people and drove out a quarter of a million people from their homes

Cal Fire officials said the Woolsey fire, which destroyed at least 150 homes and forced residents to evacuate the entire coastal town of Malibu, was still listed as "zero included".

The campfire that extinguished the The city of Paradise in Butte County, 80 miles north of Sacramento, was only five percent contained.

The short break in the strong wind on Saturday could give the firefighters the chance to control the fire and exchange the crew. They replace the firefighters who had been working peacefully for two days, said Daryl Osby, the Los Angeles Fire Chief.

But as the wind is expected to return to 35 km / h on Sunday, more homes will likely be lost, Osby warned.

In Malibu, two more deaths were reported to have related to the fire on Friday night, reported Nani Cholakians, examining magistrate and coroner of Coroner Los Angeles County, KTLA-TV reported.

In Paris, President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration in which he provided federal funds for the districts of Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles, but later threatened on Twitter Federal payments to California are withheld and claim that forest management is "so poor".

"Every year, billions of dollars are spent that killed so many people, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests," he wrote. "Remedy now or no more Fed payments!"

Worst hit was Paradise, a city of 27,000 in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, where nine people died, some of whom burned in their cars as they tried to avoid the sudden approach of the flames.

The city is a popular age community where elderly and immobile residents who have been reported missing express concerns.

On Friday, dozens of burned-out cars and SUVs lined Paradise's main street, known as the Skyway, which was melting from plastic blocks into flames that melted aluminum engine blocks, destroying plastic handles, and exploding windows.

In the afternoon, a small army of firefighters and rescue workers made their way through the rubble. Small fires burned in trees and in the ruins of houses. Power lines scattered the streets and heavy smoke blocked the sun.

For Cinda Larimer, it was the fourth time in 20 years that she evacuated her home in paradise. Three times she has returned to an untouched structure.

Not this time. All she has left is a minivan with four cats, a turtle and her dog named Buddy.

"We've lost everything," said Larimer, 53, as ash from the burning city floated on her shoulders about five miles outside of Paradise. "My mother was evacuated and took only two outfits. Why? For the same reason: we all thought we would go home today. "

More: California is already burning the most destructive in the history of the state

More: Trump threatens to raise funds for California with federal funds. Forest fires over mismanagement of forests

More: California is the worst wildfire of all time

The Camp Fire, which has exploded to 140 square miles and destroyed more than 6,700 buildings – most of them homes – has been the most destructive wildfire in California since records began.

In Southern California, west of Los Angeles, the Woolsey fire has increased to nearly 55 hectares after Highway 101, the main coastal artery, has jumped and raced to the sea.

In less than two days, the Woolsey Fire and smaller Hill Fire, also in Ventura County, has destroyed more than 150 homes and evacuated more than 250,000 people, fire officials said.

Officers ordered the evacuation of the entire city, which spans 21 miles along the coast and includes celebrity homes such as Lady Gaga, Mel Gibson, and Cher.

The attempt to escape from the flames was hampered by clogged roads. In addition, in many parts of Malibu, the power was turned off so the gas pumps did not work.

Woodyard reported from Malibu, Hughes from Paradise, California.

Contribute: The Associated Press

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