PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — Authorities called in a mobile DNA lab and anthropologists to help identify the dead as the search went on for victims of the most destructive wildfire in California history. The overall death toll from the outbreak of fires at both ends of the state stood at 25 Sunday and appeared likely to rise.
The Woolsey fire kept up its westward onslaught late Friday afternoon, destroying houses, shutting down freeways and consuming tens of thousands of acres in its brutal rush toward the Pacific Ocean.
Fueled by strong Santa Ana winds and an excessive build-up of dry brush in the Santa Monica Mountains, the fire had consumed upwards of 35,000 acres and growing, and forced the evacuation of some 90,000 homes. California’s Governor-elect Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Friday, on behalf of outgoing Governor Jerry Brown.
Some 75,000 homes have been evacuated along the Ventura-Los Angeles County line as a massive fire raged early Friday amid strong winds. Woolsey Fire erupted around 2:30 p.m. Thursday near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory south of Simi Valley and exploded to 2,000 acres by 6 p.m. Just before 3 a.m., L.A. County Fire Department said the fire had scorched about 8,000 acres. It was 0 percent contained.
So far, the bodies of two men and two women have been found. Authorities believe there may be five to eight victims.
“The searchers have found some survival pockets so there is perhaps hope there may be people still alive,” French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, according to The Guardian.
One of the buildings, 63 rue d’Aubagne, was condemned, but local officials could not rule out that squatters might have been living there.
People were living in the other building that collapsed, 65 rue d’Aubagne.
A woman who lived in one of the buildings said she stayed with her parents the night before the collapse because many of the doors in her building wouldn’t close. “It could have been me,” she said.
“We strongly believe that we have found a part of the fuselage of [Lion Air Flight] JT610” on sea floor off Jakarta, Indonesia’s military chief says
Houses sway as strong quake under central New Zealand is felt in Wellington
A 6.2-magnitude earthquake has struck central New Zealand, causing parliament to be suspended.
The quake was felt most strongly in central New Zealand, including the capital city of Wellington. It struck at a depth of 207 kilometres south-west of Taumarunui.
There were no immediate reports of serious damage or injury. People near the epicentre reported their houses swaying and pictures falling off walls.
Officials say five people were on board the Piper PA-31 aircraft, which departed from the Robert F. Swinnie airport in Georgetown County on Thursday morning and then disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. The flight was bound for the Bahamas.
The names of the passengers or pilot haven’t been released.
The Coast Guard has two cutters and aircraft from the Elizabeth City, North Carolina, air station searching. A Navy P-3 Orion plane is also helping.