31 People Are Dead and 228 Are Missing In California Wildfires

The Associated Press is reporting this morning that 31 people have died in California wildfires, and another 228 people are missing. In northern California 29 bodies have been recovered while two more were found in the aftermath of fires in the southern part of the state.

As the fires continue to rage in both parts of the Golden State the death toll continues to increase. It has now matched the highest number of people ever killed in a fire in California.

With the verified total of 228 people still unaccounted for the heroic firefighting crews have increased their efforts in the search for the missing people as well as additional bodies.

Most of the efforts were centered in and around Paradise, a town of 27,000 people that was nearly burned to the ground last week. Firefighters also were searching for people in surrounding communities which are located in the foothills of the  Sierra Nevada mountains. California authorities have brought a DNA lab along with teams of anthropologists who will be working to identify bodies found in the aftermath of the deadly fires.

Across the state, at least 150,000 people are still homeless as more than 8,000 fire crews battled the out of control fires that have decimated over 400 square miles. Firefighting crews from other states continue to arrive each day.

High velocity winds and extremely dry conditions have put even more areas at risk, California fire officials warned.

“This is truly a tragedy that all Californians can understand and respond to,” Gov. Jerry Brown said at a press briefing. “It’s a time to pull together and work through these tragedies.”

Brown has declared a statewide emergency. He also announced that California has requested disaster relief aid from the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump several days ago blamed “poor” forest management for the fires. His ill-timed and insensitive remarks were widely criticized throughout the country.

Governor Brown has agreed that federal and state governments must do more forest management. However, he also said that climate change is the primary source of the wildfire problem.

“Those who deny climate change are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we’re now witnessing, and will continue to witness in the coming years,” Brown said.

Scientists agree that drought and unusually warm weather attributed to climate change have increased the number and intensity of California wildfires. In addition, the building of homes deeper into forests has contributed to the longer and more destructive wildfire seasons that California has seen in recent years.

Supposedly California officially emerged from a five-year drought last year, yet a large part of the northern two-thirds of the state is still abnormally dry, increasing the risks of more destructive fires.