California's "Camp Fire" becomes deadliest in state's history
Editor's Note: CBS News live coverage of the wildfires in Northern and Southern California can be seen here. Monday's original story is below.
Strong winds were blowing again Monday in California, bringing with them bad news for millions of people hoping to avoid some of the most destructive wildfires the state has ever seen. The whipping winds -- and tinder-dry conditions -- will threaten areas statewide for the rest of the week, fire officials warned.
They said it could take weeks to fully contain the blazes raging across Northern and Southern California. So far, at least 44 people have been killed -- 42 in the "Camp Fire" alone, making it the deadliest wildfire in California history. More than a dozen coroner search and recovery teams looked for human remains as anxious relatives visited shelters and called police hoping to find loved ones alive.
The Camp Fire had burned almost 7,200 structures as of Monday evening, most of them homes -- meaning the Northern California wildfire is also the most destructive in state history. Some 15,000 more structures were threatened. It had chewed up some 117,000 acres.
The Camp Fire is one of three major wildfires burning in the state. The "Woolsey Fire" and "Hill Fire" are burning northwest of Los Angeles.
Read California wildfire updates as they happened:
Wildfires impact 49ers-Giants game
San Francisco 49ers General Manager John Lynch welcomed the high school football team from Paradise, the town destroyed by the wildfire in Butte County, to the team's game against the New York Giants Monday night.
Players and cheerleaders from the school were on the field for the national anthem, reports CBS San Francisco.
The Air Quality Index at kickoff was at an unhealthy level of 161 due to the wildfires in the region. The smell of smoke was present throughout the stadium.
The NFL had monitored the situation but the AQI never got near 200, at which the game would have had to have been moved.
The Giants beat the 49ers, 27-23.
"Camp Fire" now considered deadliest in California history
The Butte County sheriff's office said 13 more bodies have been discovered Monday, bringing the death toll from the "Camp Fire" to 42 in Northern California. It's now considered the deadliest wildfire in California's history.
The "Camp Fire" has scorched approximately 117,000 acres.
The Butte County sheriff's office said four victims have been positively identified and their families have been notified. Some 228 people remain unaccounted for.
The sheriff's office said 150 more search and rescuers would arrive Tuesday. There will be 13 search/recovery teams, including three anthropology teams. Officials have requested two portable mortuaries from military.
Officials give latest on "Camp Fire"
Officials monitoring the deadly "Camp Fire" in Northern California held a press briefing Monday evening.
A meteorologist with the National Weather Service noted there's no sign of rain in the forecast through this week and possibly into Thanksgiving.
The California Highway Patrol said there are numerous vehicles blocking roadways and said about 60 have been cleared.
Officials have launched a website where residents can view an online damage assessment map. They said data is subject to change as information is gathered and verified. Addresses may be entered in the search bar to find a specific location, they said.
The Butte County sheriff's office said no new evacuation orders have been issued as of Monday night. But they urged residents to be vigilant.
The sheriff's office also said there have been 139 "suspicious incidents" -- 16 of them classified as looting. There have been no arrests.
Trump approves major disaster declaration for California
President Trump has tweeted he will expedite a request for a major disaster declaration for California.
"Wanted to respond quickly in order to alleviate some of the incredible suffering going on," Mr. Trump wrote.
3 major fires by the numbers
Firefighters are battling three major wildfires in California. Here's a breakdown by the numbers as of Monday evening, according to Cal Fire and local officials.
- Location: Butte County
- 117,000 acres burned
- 30 percent contained
- 42 fatalities confirmed, 3 firefighters injured
- 228 people unaccounted for
- 7,177 structures destroy, most of them residences
- 139 reports of "suspicious incidents," including 16 considered looting, but no arrests
- Location: Los Angeles County, Ventura County
- 93,662 acres burned
- 30 percent contained
- 2 fatalities confirmed, 3 firefighters injured
- Some 370 structures destroyed, 57,000 in danger
- Location: Ventura County
- 4,531 acres burned
- 85 percent contained
Oregon firefighters helping at California wildfires
Firefighters have been sent from Oregon to help suppress the deadly wildfires in California.
The Oregon Department of Forestry said Monday that two teams with equipment and personnel were sent from eastern and southern Oregon at the request of California fire officials.
Forestry officials also said firefighters and equipment from the Douglas Forest Protection Association were among those sent. The teams will join their Oregon State Fire Marshal counterparts who are already there.
Officials say the teams were set to begin work Monday for about two weeks in Northern California where a wildfire ravaged the town of Paradise in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Authorities were stepping up searches for bodies and missing people.
Fire chief pushes back on Trump tweet
The chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department pushed back on President Trump's tweet over the weekend that "gross mismanagement of the forests" was to blame for the wildfires. Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters Monday morning the statement was "very hurtful" for first responders.
On Saturday, Mr. Trump said on Twitter there was "no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"
Osby was asked about the tweet during a press conference. "I can just tell you that we're in extreme climate change right now," he said.
"We don't control the climate," Osby said. "We're doing all that we can to prevent incidents and mitigate incidents and save lives. I personally find that statement unsatisfactory, and it's very hurtful for all first responders that are putting their lives on the line to protect lives and property."
Earlier Monday, Mr. Trump thanked firefighters and first responders in another tweet.
"The fire behavior is just so intense"
Malibu looks like a war zone, with homes and businesses burned to the ground. Charred earth as far as the eye can see. All this, as the "Woolsey Fire" is still nowhere near contained, CBS News' Jamie Yuccas reports.
"It really seems like we are chasing it, it moves so fast, so aggressive, and the fire behavior is just so intense," said Mike Grosenbach, a Los Angeles County firefighter.
Firefighters are working to cut a perimeter around the fire. Students at Pepperdine University in Malibu were told to shelter in place as the flames crept neared campus. Nearby homeowners had minutes to get their horses to safety, turning the iconic Zuma Beach into a makeshift ranch.
"[The Pacific] felt like the safest place to be with the fresh air coming. At least you have fresh air coming off the ocean. The air was so thick last night, you could barely breathe," said homeowner Robin Elmasian.
New fires ignite in Southern California
Two new fires ignited Monday morning in Southern California, fire officials said. Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said at a press conference that the fires started within minutes of each other.
The larger of the two fires, the "Peak Fire," started in Simi Valley south of State Route 118. Authorities were closing the highway in both directions, Lorenzen said.
Evacuations were being carried out in the Lake Manor and Box Canyon areas. The fire had burned 75 acres, according to Cal Fire.
The blaze was being bombarded with water drops, and ground crews were on the scene. The fire started not far from where the region's huge "Woolsey Fire" began last Thursday.
The Ventura County Fire Department said on Twitter that the smaller of the two new fires, the "Lynn Fire," had been contained.
Patients evacuated from hospital as fire closed in
A registered nurse was one of several hospital staff members in Northern California who helped evacuate patients as the "Camp Fire" closed in, CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal reports. Darrell Wilken and his patients fled the raging flames in Paradise, which was nearly wiped out.
"It was everywhere," Wilken said. He had three patients, two critical, in his car.
Vehicles around him were on fire. He thought they may be next, so he and his patients called their families to say goodbye.
"What do you do when you go through hell?" Wilken said. "You just keep going."
It took them more three hours to get through hell. "I'm still shaking, every time I talk about it," Wilken said.
Firefighter union president rips Trump
Brian K. Rice, the president of the California Professional Firefighters, criticized President Trump on Saturday after he threatened to withhold federal payments to the state, claiming its forest management is "so poor." The president made the comments as the state is battling multiple deadly wildfires.
"The president's message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines," Brian K. Rice said in a statement.
"Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography," Rice said.
He added, "Moreover, nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another two-thirds under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California."
Winds threaten to undo firefighters' progress
Winds threatened to undo the progress that firefighters made over the weekend, "CBS Evening News" anchor Jeff Glor reports from Calabasas, California, on the western edge of Los Angeles County. On Sunday night, officials ordered all of the nearly 25,000 people who live in Calabasas to evacuate.
Winds began picking up overnight Sunday with one gust measured at 58 mph. Gusts this week were forecast to hit as high as 70 mph.
The gusts are what make the fires spread so quickly. The winds also threaten to ground helicopters and planes that are used to drop water, which could force crews to fight the flames solely from the ground.
"Camp Fire" jumps across part of lake
The "Camp Fire" was active all night long Sunday and jumped 300 feet across a portion of Lake Oroville at least three times, Jonathan Pangburn, a fire behavior specialist at Cal Fire, said Monday morning. Officials said more than 4,500 firefighters are on day four of their battle against the blaze.
After a lull of strong winds that make for dangerous fire conditions, the area near Paradise -- a town of 27,000 that was largely incinerated Thursday -- will have wind gusts as high as 40 mph by Monday evening.
Tempers flare among some evacuees
A town hall meeting quickly turned tense Sunday as fire evacuees demanded to know why there weren't more firefighters on-scene and why their homes were left undefended, reports CBS Los Angeles.
The community meeting at Taft High School in Woodland Hills to update residents on the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire lasted about three hours.
Some evacuees also demanded answers about why there wasn't more communication when the fires broke out.
"Some of my neighbors have lost everything. And I'm not sure if my house is standing," one woman said, pointing at officials. "Please answer that."
CAL FIRE said, simply put, that the strain on resources has been enormous since so much of the state was under siege by flames and wind.
State Sen. Henry Stern tried to reassure the crowd, empathizing as he insisted he's also a victim of the fires.
"I still don't know if my home is standing. And I don't know if my grandparents' home is standing," he said.
"When you're in this position, you're homeless," Denise Pepper said. "There's nothing. Thank God I have my husband and we have our two dogs. You know, so, whatever help you can get. You want answers now, you do."
State and local fire, law enforcement and emergency management officials spoke to the public about the efforts in battling the blazes.
One question they couldn't answer is if President Trump would free up federal funds
"Right now it's pending," said FEMA's Veornica Verde. "But one of the things people can start to do now to start preparing is call their insurance company. Make sure they have that phone number and if they can, take photos of any damages."
New fire quickly contained
Fire officials in San Bernardino County, northeast of Los Angeles, said a new fire was contained almost as quickly as it broke out Sunday.
The San Bernardino County Fire District tweeted about the new blaze, which was dubbed the "University Fire":
Some evacuation orders for Woolsey Fire lifted
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deptartment is allowing people to return to their homes in parts of Agoura Hills and Westlake Village and re-opening a section of freeway due to progress made by firefighters battling the Woolsey Fire, reports CBS Los Angeles.
The department made the announcement Sunday evening for the L.A. County-side of communities located north of the 101 Freeway, the station says.
But officials stressed that there won't be any access to neighborhoods south of the freeway.
Officials update wildfire containment Sunday evening
Strong Santa Ana winds returned Sunday just as firefighters in Southern California were able to increase a containment line around the massive "Woolsey Fire," which has scorched more than 130 square miles, CBS Los Angeles reports.
The "Woolsey Fire" has been 25 percent contained, according to CalFire.
"The night before, firefighters were able to make a little bit of progress out there on the fire line and reinforced some of our containment lines," Fire Captain Tony Imbrenda, a public information officer for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said. "As you can see, we have another Santa Ana wind condition that has moved into the area overnight."
CalFire says there are nearly 5,000 fire personnel battling the blaze, along with 571 total fire engines, 91 fire crews and 21 helicopters.
Man survives wildfire by hiding in creek with his dog
Matt Armbruster told CBS News he survived the "Woolsey Fire" by hiding in a creek with his dog to stay safe. Armbruster was told to evacuate but didn't. When the fire looked like it was coming for his home, he panicked and headed to a nearby creek.
Armbruster stayed there for almost two hours as the fire burned around him. He admitted that he thought he would die there. He said he was reluctant to share his story because not only did he survive, but so did his house when many in the area are returning to devastation.
Celebrities lose homes in Southern California
Actor Gerard Butler and Camille Grammer Meyer of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" are among the celebrities whose homes have been damaged or destroyed. Butler said on Instagram that his Malibu home is "half-gone," and shared a photo of himself standing in front of a burned-out section of the house and a badly burned vehicle.
Meyer's publicist said her home in Malibu was destroyed Saturday night. He said she's grateful to have safely evacuated with her family, is appreciative of firefighters who have risked their lives fighting the blaze, and is grateful to the love and concern shown for her.
"Sadly my house couldn't be saved. The courageous firefighters were able to save my cars and personal items recovered from my home," she wrote on Instagram. "Sad we lost our home but grateful that my family is safe."
Gold Rush-era bridge destroyed by flames
A celebrated 132-year-old Gold Rush-era wooden footbridge in Butte County is among the losses from a devastating Northern California wildfire.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the 238-foot Honey Run Covered Bridge near Chico was leveled in the in the fire that ripped through the area late Thursday. All that's left are charred wooden beams, rippled sheet metal and red steel beams protruding from concrete.
The newspaper reports it is the only three-span truss bridge of its kind in the United States. It was the backdrop for countless wedding and other celebration photos over the years and in recent years had been used for movie nights.
The Honey Run Covered Bridge was listed on the Register of Historic Places and even had its own association to look after it.
2 newspaper workers missing after wildfire
A Northern California newspaper is among those searching for missing people in the wake of the deadly wildfire. David Little, who is editor of the Chico Enterprise-Record and Oroville Mercury-Register, said they hope to hear from employees Dan Sloane and Sarah Release.
Sloane is a press operator who was scheduled to work Saturday but did not show. He lives in Magalia, which is one of the places hit hard in Butte County.Release works in classified ads and lives in Paradise, which was decimated by the "Camp Fire."
Little said friends of a second press operator told the publisher he was safe. "Our missing employees aren't more important than anyone else's -- but they're ours, so I'm trying," he tweeted. "I hope they and all the other missing people are safe, hunkered down somewhere."
Strong winds fanning Woolsey Fire
Strong Santa Ana winds have returned to Southern California, fanning a huge wildfire that has scorched a string of communities west of Los Angeles. A one-day lull in the dry, northeasterly winds ended Sunday morning and authorities warn that the gusts will continue through Tuesday.
Fire officials said the lull allowed firefighters to gain 10 percent control of the "Woolsey Fire," which has burned more than 80,000 acres in western Los Angeles County and southeastern Ventura County since Thursday.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said that means 90 percent of the fire lines are uncontained and there are numerous hotspots and plenty of fuel that has not burned.
Huge plumes of smoke are rising again in the fire area, which stretches miles from the northwest corner of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley to the Malibu coast.
Governor requests federal disaster declaration
California Gov. Jerry Brown is requesting a "major disaster declaration" from the president for the wildfires burning at both ends of the state.
His office said in a statement Sunday that the declaration would bolster ongoing emergency assistance and help residents recover from fires burning in Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
If granted, the declaration would make individuals eligible for crisis counseling, housing and unemployment help, and legal aid.
Dozens still missing as recovery efforts continue
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said his department has reports of 110 people still missing from the fire, but said he's hopeful that more of those missing people will be located.
The department initially had more than 500 calls about citizens who were unable to reach loved ones. But he said they've been able to help locate many. Next he said sheriff's officials will be cross-checking their list with official shelters to search for the remaining missing.
Honea said Saturday that 23 people have died in the fire near Paradise, about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco.
Officials stepping up efforts to recover bodies
Authorities plan to step efforts to recover and identify people who died in a Northern California wildfire that has killed more than two dozen people.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said he will add another coroner's team to help find bodies in burned areas, and he ordered a DNA lab truck to assist in identifying human remains. Honea said in some cases, investigators have only found bones or bone fragments.
Officials are receiving expertise from anthropologists from nearby California State University, Chico.
The fire north of Sacramento has destroyed more 6,700 structures and driven more than 52,000 people from their homes.
Red Flag Warning extended in California
A Red Flag Warning denoting a high risk of wildfire has been extended in California until Tuesday, CBS Los Angeles reports.
Red Flag Warnings are issued for conditions that could lead to "extreme fire behavior" within 24 hours, according to Cal Fire.
The National Weather Service Sacramento said "critical fire weather conditions" are expected across Northern California Saturday night to Monday morning "due to strong winds & dry conditions."
The National Weather Service Los Angeles said more winds are also expected in Southern California.
"After a brief period of light winds today, expect another round of Santa Ana winds expected Sunday morning through Tuesday," it tweeted. "Peak winds each morning through early afternoon hours. Here is a graphic for Sunday's expected gusts. Thanks to all the firefighters!"
Wildfires besiege city reeling from mass shooting
A city reeling from the tragedy of a mass shooting was under a siege of a different sort Friday as raging wildfires on both sides of the city forced widespread evacuations and shut down part of the main freeway to town.
For Thousand Oaks, which had been considered one of the safest cities in the nation before a gunman massacred 12 people at a country music bar, the spasm of violence jolted the city's sense of security. Encroaching flames, despite the near-constant threat of fire in the bone-dry state, presented an entirely different hazard.
"It's devastating. It's like 'welcome to hell,'" resident Cynthia Ball said about the dual disasters while she was outside the teen center serving as a shelter for evacuees. "I don't even know what to say. It's like we're all walking around kind of in a trance."
A day earlier, the facility had been the location where grieving family members had gathered and received the grim news on the fate of loved ones who had not returned from the Borderline Bar and Grill, where a Marine combat veteran went on a shooting rampage Wednesday. The investigation into what drove 28-year-old Ian David Long to kill was continuing even as the city about 40 miles from Los Angeles was under threat. Three-quarters of the city of 130,000 was under evacuation orders, and that likely included people affected by the shooting, Thousand Oaks Mayor Andy Fox said.
Trump threatens to withhold federal payments
President Donald Trump is threatening to withhold federal payments to California, claiming its forest management is "so poor."
Mr. Trump said Saturday "there is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly fires in California." He said "billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"
The comments were Mr. Trump's first about the massive wildfires burning in California, including a blaze that incinerated most of the Northern California town of Paradise and killed at least nine people.
Utility company will cooperate with investigation
The Pacific Gas & Electric Company said it will cooperate with any investigations stemming from the massive wildfire in Northern California. The company told state regulators Thursday that it experienced a problem on an electrical transmission line near the site of the blaze minutes before the fire broke out.
The company said it later observed damage to a transmission tower on the line. Lynsey Paulo, a company spokesperson, said the information was preliminary and stressed the cause of the fire has not been determined.
Wildfire causes "utter panic" as people try to escape
As the fast-moving fire ravaged Northern California, highways were jammed with cars as people desperately tried to escape. One man battled burning ash as he tried to find a way out. He's safe now, but others were forced to abandon their cars and run for their lives.
Five miles north of Paradise, Tisha Aroyo and her grandfather stayed behind. He said he thought he could save her house, but they would only watch helplessly as their home burned.
JT Ford and his wife Stacey went to a nearby pasture, where they watched their home go up in flames. "The fire roared through so quick it was only an hour of utter panic and fear because then everything burned out," Ford said.
Flames have moved so quickly there's not a lot firefighters can do. "That fire from the second it started was off to the races," said Ken Pimlott, director of Cal Fire. "It's all hands on deck to rescue people and get people out of harm's way."