US President Donald Trump visits California wildfire devastation

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02:09 mins.
16.11.2018

Scores missing after wildfires

After California's deadliest wildfires, the US president made a tour of the area. Thousands of firefighters are working to contain the fire as survivors stay in temporary shelters, tents or their cars.

A week after the wildfires broke out in California, fires were still burning in the areas north and south of San Francisco and areas surrounding Los Angeles on Saturday.

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Cal Fire officials said the Camp Fire in the north of the state was 55 percent contained as of Saturday, after it had burned through 148,000 acres (600 square kilometers).

The wildfire has killed at least 76 people in the area while destroying 9,700 houses and 144 apartment buildings. Some people are staying with friends and family, some have set up tents or are living in their vehicles, and others are being housed in 14 emergency shelters. About 47,000 people have been told they cannot yet return to their homes.

About 5,596 personnel are fighting the fire and searching for the dead.

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Officials hope to have the Camp Fire contained within the next two weeks.

A destroyed trailer park in the town of Paradise

Some rain was expected in the Butte County area on Tuesday, which could help put out the fire, but there were fears there could be floods or landslides in areas where trees and other vegetation have been razed.

In southern California, fires around Los Angeles had consumed more than 100,000 acres, with at least four lives lost. The main wildfire in the south, Woolsey Fire, has been linked to four deaths and the destruction of at least 500 buildings near the Malibu coast west of Los Angeles.

Some 1,276 people are still missing in the state.

The air quality became the worst in the world at one point following the fires

The president flies in

Trump had caused resentment last week when he wrote: "There is 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."

He claimed Finland did not have California's wildfire problems because "they spent a lot of time on raking."

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A burned-out house by the ocean in Malibu

Trump visited the areas devastated by the exceptional fires and toxic air to grasp the scale of the desolation wrought on the landscape. He met with Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom: "We will be talking about forest management. I've been saying that for a long time. And it could have been a lot different situation," Trump said.

"The men and women that are fighting this fire are incredible." Trump said in Chico, California.

Asked if the fires had changed his opinion on climate change, Trump replied: "No. No. I have a strong opinion. I want a great climate and we're going to have that and we're going to have forests that are very safe."

California's deadly wildfires continue to burn

The deadly California wildfires rage on

People continue to die in California's wildfires. As of Thursday, the number of victims of the Camp Fire in Northern California had risen to 63 — making it the deadliest single fire in the state's history. Three people have also died in the "Woolsey Fire" in Southern California.

California's deadly wildfires continue to burn

Hundreds of thousands of evacuees

Around a quarter of a million people had to leave their homes, with many documenting dangerous escapes from the flames on social media. On Thursday, local authorities said at least 631 people were still unaccounted for, as rescuers continued to search for bodies and survivors.

California's deadly wildfires continue to burn

Paradise wiped off the map

Ten search teams were working in and around Paradise — a town of 27,000 north of Sacramento. The town was almost completely burnt to ashes and more than 6,000 homes were completely destroyed. In this photo from Paradise, a staircase is the only thing left standing of what used to be a house.

California's deadly wildfires continue to burn

Buildings burnt to the ground

The fires have destroyed thousands of homes, including several exclusive residences in Malibu, where many celebrities live. Actor Gerard Butler said on Instagram that his house in Malibu was "half-gone." At the People's Choice Awards on Sunday, stars called for prayers and donations to help residents and rescuers.

California's deadly wildfires continue to burn

Escape from the fires

Evacuation orders have been issued for the entire town of Malibu. These horses have unusual temporary stables at the lifeguard towers on a beach in Malibu as a result of the Woolsey Fire. It's also affected the nearby town of Thousand Oaks, which was still reeling after a gunman killed 12 people in a bar on November 7.

California's deadly wildfires continue to burn

Rescuers continue to work

Out-of-state fire crews continue to arrive in California, as winds and dry conditions are expected to fan the flames through the rest of the week. According to fire officials, by late Sunday the Camp Fire was around 25 percent contained, while only 15 percent of the Woolsey Fire was under control. California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency.

Fires are spreading through multiple national forests, including the Sierra Nevada National Forest, Mendocino National Forest, Modoc National Forest, Lassen National Forest and Plumas National Forest.

No official cause has been determined for the wildfires. Electric utilities had reported equipment problems near where the Camp and Woolsey fires broke out.

jm/bw (AP, Reuters)

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