Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018

California wildfire death toll rises, Arizona firefighters to assist efforts

LOS ANGELES – Arizona officials plan to send dozens of fire engines to California to help fight wildfires there.

Arizona officials have sent 42 engines and 144 firefighters from across the state to help battle the blazes, backfill for local fire departments and help with supplies, according to the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

The Northern California inferno that all but obliterated the town of Paradise has killed at least 42 people, according to the Associated Press . More than 5,000 firefighters battling the blaze made gains overnight, slowing the flames’ advance toward the town of Oroville, according to the AP.

The wildfires sweeping across Southern California also have destroyed hundreds of homes, ravaged beloved landmarks and park space and killed at least two people and injured several more.

Here’s the latest on the fires burning in Southern California as of 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Woolsey Fire

Thousands of firefighters remained on the line Tuesday, working to contain the Woolsey Fire, which has burned more than 96,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The fire broke out Thursday afternoon north of Bell Canyon and rapidly moved south through the Santa Monica Mountains, jumping the 101 Freeway and tearing through hillside communities in Malibu, eventually burning all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Two people were found dead Friday afternoon on Mulholland Highway, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department . Investigators believe the driver may have become disoriented while escaping the area, but the investigation is ongoing.

– Map published by Google Crisis Response

On Monday night, fire officials said the Woolsey Fire had scorched more than 80 percent of the total National Park lands in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Park Service officials responded to a flood of inquiries about the condition of wildlife in the mountains, saying the home range of four local bobcats have been completely destroyed. They added that some of the mountain lions biologists are tracking have not yet been accounted for, but said that wasn’t out of the ordinary given how the cougars are monitored.

President Donald Trump said he had approved an expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which would open up federal funds to assist fire-ravaged California.

“Wanted to respond quickly in order to alleviate some of the incredible suffering going on,” Trump tweeted Monday . “I am with you all the way. God Bless all of the victims and families affected.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Southern California Edison voluntarily reported an equipment outage at its Chatsworth substation near where the fire began. The outage came just two minutes before the Woolsey Fire was first reported, but Edison stressed that there has so far been no indication from public officials that utility equipment could have been responsible for sparking the fire.

SoCal Edison reported the outage to the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday and said it will cooperate with investigators.

Peak and Lynn fires

Two new fires broke out Monday, with one burning right off the 118 Freeway in the Santa Susana Pass and spreading south before firefighters stopped forward progress in the afternoon. That blaze, dubbed the Peak Fire , scorched about 186 acres, but was fully contained by 4:30 p.m.

The 118 Freeway was shut down in both directions between Simi Valley and Chatsworth but was fully reopened about 6 p.m.

A second fire in Thousand Oaks, the Lynn Fire , burned about 5 acres but was quickly contained.

Hill Fire

Firefighters continue to make good progress on the Hill Fire, which was holding at 4,531 acres and is now 90 percent contained, according to the latest update from Cal Fire .

Two structures have been destroyed and no deaths or injuries have been reported. About 40 firefighters remain on the fire line.

The only remaining evacuation order is for Point Mugu Naval Base, according to Cal Fire .

A hospital worker embraces her co-worker as they evacuate patients from the Feather River Hospital during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

How to make a donation:

A number of organizations are helping wildfire victims.

  • The Red Cross, perhaps the most well-known, is providing both shelter and emotional support for evacuees. You can visit , call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make an automatic $10 donation.
  • The United Way of Greater Los Angeles is accepting donations to its Disaster Relief Fund to help those affected by the Southern California fires. They’re partnering with United Way of Ventura County.
  • The Salvation Army Ventura Corps wildfire relief fund is also accepting donations to go toward California wildfire relief.
  • The California Fire Foundation is a nonprofit that is distributing emergency funds to fire victims through its SAVE program . That includes firefighters distributing prepaid credit cards to help victims in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
  • Google is helping people make a donation . Donations through Google will be directed through the Center for Disaster Philanthropy .
  • The Entertainment Industry Foundation is raising money through its Fire Relief Fund to help those affected. The organizations that will benefit, but last year they gave to the L.A. Fire Department, L.A. Kitchen, and the Humane Society of Ventura County.
  • Facebook also has a Crisis Response page for the Woolsey Fire, which includes fundraising through GlobalGiving to help those affected by the fire.


How to donate to help animals:

  • The Humane Society of Ventura County is accepting animals evacuating from the Hill and Woolsey fires, and they’re also looking for support. You can donate to the organization here or purchase needed items through their Amazon Wish List here .
  • The Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation is providing animals shelter from the Woolsey and Hill fires. They’re accepting donations through the Noah’s Legacy Fund .
  • The Pasadena Humane Society said it took in 15 dogs, 12 cats, five rabbits, four hamsters and two mice over the course of the weekend. It is accepting donations , up to $3,000 of which will be matched through a gift from the Elizabeth M. Falk Foundation.


Other actions you can take:

  • Adopt a pet. The L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control is asking people to go to their nearest animal care center and adopt during this emergency. They note that their Agoura Animal Care Center was evacuated Friday morning, but their other centers remain open.
  • Help your neighborhood plan for a future disaster. L.A. County has a five-step Neighborhood Action Kit to help you and your neighbors make a plan. They note that, in major disasters, 70 percent of victims are rescued by their neighbors rather than professional responders.
  • Apply to volunteer with the Humane Society of Ventura County, though they are currently only accepting trained volunteers to help with evacuated animals.
  • Apply to become a Red Cross volunteer .


Cronkite News reporter Edgardo Lozoya and KPCC reporters Melissa Leu , Brian Frank , Ryan Fonseca , Mike Roe , Sharon McNary , Megan Garvey , Kristen Muller and Priska Neely contributed to this story.

This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability , a multimedia collaboration between Cronkite News , Arizona PBS , KJZZ , KPCC , Rocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal .

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