Paradise lost: Grim search under way in incinerated California town


More than a dozen coroner search and recovery teams looked for human remains from a Northern California wildfire that killed at least 42 - making it the deadliest in state history - as anxious relatives visited shelters and called police hoping to find loved ones alive.

The fire already ranked as the most destructive on record in California in terms of property losses, having consumed more than 7,100 homes and other structures since igniting on Thursday in Butte County's Sierra foothills, about 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco.

The Camp Fire has matched the 1933 Griffith Park disaster in Los Angeles - until now the single deadliest wildfire on record - according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

So far, 29 bodies have been recovered in or near Paradise, a town of about 26,000 that's been all but leveled by the Camp fire.

Glenn Simmons, 64, told AFP in the nearby town of Chico that he had been sleeping in his auto since Thursday, unable to find a space in a shelter.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday evening, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea confirmed the number of dead, and the official number of missing. Authorities said they have reports of 110 people still missing in the area affected by the blaze.

The Associated Press reported that the authorities have called in a mobile DNA lab and anthropologists to help identify victims from any remains found in the rubble. "I have heard that said countless times in the past two days, and I have lost my home before to a California fire, now another", he wrote.

The largest of the two blazes, the Woolsey Fire, grew to 85,500 acres on Sunday after spreading south from Simi Valley in Ventura County to Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County, where the flames jumped the 101 Freeway and continued burning toward the Malibu area.

The homes of Miley Cyrus, Neil Young, Robin Thicke and Gerard Butler are among those scorched in the Woolsey blaze. "As we drove to safety, they risked their lives trying to save our home".

Unfortunately wildfires are a part of life out in Southern California. "It was probably the most terrible experience I will have in my life", she told the Newsday programme.

The governor declared a state emergency and said California is requesting aid from the Trump administration.

The Woolsey Fire has blackened almost 94,000 acres and was also 30 percent contained as of Monday night, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).

Gerrard took to Instagram on Sunday to reveal his house had been destroyed with a photo of his burned out home. "We are sad not to be able to defend it against Mother Nature's wrath", Young wrote.

Reality star Kim Kardashian, actress Alyssa Milano, Orlando Bloom, Lady Gaga and director Guillermo del Toro were also among the celebrities forced to pack up and flee their upscale homes in Calabasas and Malibu, with flames licking at their heels.

Mr Trump said in a Twitter post: "With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California".