Electric Utilities Reported Problems Minutes Before Deadly Wildfires Began

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The killer blaze, fueled by thick, drought-desiccated scrub, has capped 2 back-to-back catastrophic wildfire seasons in California that scientists largely attribute to prolonged drought they say is symptomatic of climate change.

The fire, which has charred 195 square miles (505 square kilometres) and destroyed more than 6,400 homes since it started Thursday, was reported 30 percent contained.

Five days after flames all but obliterated the Northern California town of Paradise, population 27,000, officials were unsure of the exact number of missing.

Although President Donald Trump tweeted without evidence on Saturday that "gross mismanagement of the forests" was the reason for the "massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California", experts have pointed to high winds that helped flames spread quickly, and noted the role of climate change in the risky fires, reported The Mercury News.

The sheriff said he also has requested three portable morgue teams from the USA military, a "disaster mortuary" crew and an unspecified number of cadaver dog units to assist in the search for human remains. The Camp Fire has burned more than 135,000 acres.

In a lawsuit filed this week, Californians who have lost homes in the state's deadliest and most destructive wildfire said a high voltage transmission line failed, sparking the fire.

Authorities reported two more people perished over the weekend in a separate blaze, dubbed the Woolsey Fire, that has destroyed 435 structures and displaced some 200,000 people in the mountains and foothills near Southern California's Malibu coast, west of Los Angeles.

A National Guard contingent of 100 military police trained to seek and identify human remains will reinforce coroner-led recovery teams, cadaver dogs and forensic anthropologists already scouring the ghostly landscape, left by a fire that has killed at least 48 people, some burned beyond recognition. An estimated 50,000 people remained under evacuation orders. "A lot of work has been done with regard to ... our efforts to find unaccounted for and missing persons further down the road".

"We didn't have 10 minutes to get out of there", he said.

Officials say that on top of thousands of homes, more than 250 local commercial buildings have fallen victim.

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"We want to be able to cover as much ground as quickly as we possibly can", he said.

The previous record was 29 deaths caused by the 1933 Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles and 25 in the Oakland Hills fire in 1991.

Firefighters will continue to strengthen containment lines throughout the day and keep an eye out for hot spots in the area, Cal Fire said.

"It (the fire) was so fast", Dise said.

"I just kept thinking, 'I'm going to die in melting plastic, '" Pierce told The New York Times.

Madison County Assistant Fire Chief Troyce Miskin said the fire departments in California sent out requests for resources from other states.

As for what caused the two deadly fires, that remains under investigation.

"My mom said, 'Nuh-uh, I ain't leaving.' She's 90 years old and blind", Weldon told CTV News.

President Donald Trump declared a major disaster from the California wildfires on Monday night, making federal emergency funds more readily available in the stricken counties.

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