Death toll grows in western wildfires

CHICO, Calif. – Fires in the west, some burning for a month, have now claimed 35 lives and President Trump is on the way the California state capitol.

The president approved a major disaster declaration for California exactly a month ago, and Monday morning is expected to meet with local and federal fire and emergency officials at the base for CAL FIRE operations in Sacramento while fires burn all around.

Evacuees in the fire-ravaged western states have a harder time making it to safety the longer they wait.

Ralph Lucas is managing The Riverside Fire. He said, “There are weakened trees, electrical wires down. There could be damaged structures out there and things that are hazardous to the general public.”

The fires in Oregon have already consumed more than 80,000 acres and forced a half million people out of their homes. One of them is 11-year old Dominic Flucas. He said, “I was feeling sad and scared at the moment because I knew that we were going to probably most likely lose our home.” And with little time to prepare, or to go, they lost everything they owned as well.

Farther north, more than 600,000 acres have burned in Washington State. And to the south,  3.3 million acres and counting in California, an area larger than the state of Connecticut, has burned.

Behind the fires lines, crews are working with lists of missing people and looking for remains in burned out communities and along escape routes and sometimes finding the unexpected, like a puppy in a burned-out house in Butte County whose name is now “Trooper.”

Monday could be crucial. There has been a break with cooler breezy temperatures but a fire weather watch is in effect Monday over the Northern Sierra and a red flag warning is in effect for much of northeastern California.

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