Flames continued to ravage through large sections of Butte County as the death toll rose to 42 on Tuesday, making the Camp Fire the deadliest wildfire in California history, according to the Butte County Sheriff’s Department.
Firefighters are making progress on the blaze with containment at 30 percent as of Tuesday morning, though full containment is possibly weeks away, according to Cal Fire. Already the fire has burned more than 125,000 acres and destroyed 6,522 homes, 260 businesses and another 857 structures.
Tuesday morning the Butte County Sheriff’s Department reported that another 13 fatalities had been confirmed, bringing the total from the Camp Fire to 42. The victims have been found inside homes, vehicles and outdoors. Numerous residents remain unaccounted for and authorities expect the death toll will rise. Efforts were underway to bring in mobile morgues, cadaver dogs, a rapid DNA analysis system for identifying victims, and an additional 150 search-and-rescue personnel on top of 13 teams already looking for remains.
The flames all but obliterated the town of Paradise, population 27,000, and ravaged surrounding areas last Thursday, when the fire first broke out.
Seven members from the Turlock Fire Department have been deployed to help battle the deadly blaze, including Capt. Kevin Tidwell, who is serving as one of the incident’s public information officers.
“There is massive devastation to the area, both to Paradise and the communities around it,” Tidwell said. “There’s a large swath of homes and businesses that are completely destroyed. It’s nothing but chimneys and ashes.”
A state of emergency has been declared in Los Angeles, Ventura and Butte counties due to multiple fires and late last week, California secured direct federal assistance to further support the impacted communities. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has activated the State Operations Center to its highest level and is coordinating with other local, state and federal emergency response officials to address emergency management needs. More than 8,000 firefighters are working the front lines of wildfires statewide.
“The magnitude of destruction is unbelievable and heartbreaking,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “Our hearts go out to everybody that has been affected.”
The Wolsey Fire burning in Los Angeles and Ventura counties has burned 96,314 acres and is 35 percent contained. Two fatalities were reported from the fire.
"We're getting the upper hand here. We're feeling better," said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.
Those who would like to help the communities impacted by the wildfires have several options for donations. The North Valley Community Foundation at https://www.nvcf.org/ is collecting both monetary and supply donations for the Butte County community and is organizing volunteer efforts.
The Red Cross has set up a shelter in the region for evacuees and is collecting supplies and money to help with relief efforts through their website redcross.org.
The Save Mart Companies launched a fundraiser collecting monetary donations for The Salvation Army for Butte County on Monday. Shoppers can donate any amount at checkout and 100 percent of the proceeds will aid local victims. The donation will be printed on the receipt, so shoppers have a record of their tax-deductible donation. All Save Mart, FoodMaxx, Lucky and Lucky California grocery stores located in California and Northern Nevada are participating in this fundraiser.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.