North California fire: Death toll at 76, more than 1,000 missing

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President Donald Trump arrives at Beale Air Force Base for a visit to areas impacted by the wildfires. Jerry Brown and Gov-elect Gavin Newsom thanked him for coming out.

The destruction of more than 10,000 homes and the dire state of the survivors was not lost on President Trump.

"I think that the biggest message and the biggest takeover will be the president saying, 'We're here, ' and thankfully the president's got big shoulders, and I think he's going to go there to offer them up to people that need somebody to lean on", White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday on the Fox News Channel.

Paradise was home to almost 27,000 residents before it was largely incinerated by the blaze on the night of November 8. The nearby communities of Magalia and Concow were also heavily damaged. Minnesota's Cloquet Fire in October of 1918 killed 450 people. "Hopefully this is going to be the last one of these, because this was a really, really bad one".

The Hill Fire prompted evacuation orders for around 1,200 people as it raged last week, Cal Fire has said.

This patch of California, a former Gold Rush region in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is to some extent Trump country.

Firefighter Joshua Watson said he viewed the upcoming visit as a sign of support for firefighters, "no matter what you think about him".

He added: "I was with the President of Finland and he called it a forest nation, and they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things and they don't have any problem, and when it is, it's a very small problem".

Trump, downplaying the role of a changing climate in fuelling the fires, said the management and maintenance of forest lands will be the focus moving forward, and he announced $500m for that effort in the Farm Bill. Trump subsequently approved a federal disaster declaration.

"If you insult people, then you go visit them, how do you think you're going to be accepted?"

Mr Trump pledged that improved forest management practices would diminish future risks.


"I think people have to see this really to understand it", Trump said.

California has 33 million acres of forest, according to a University of California web page.

More than 5,500 fire personnel were battling the blaze that covered 228 square miles (590 square kilometres) and was about 50% contained, officials said.

Firefighters were racing against time with a red flag warning issued for Saturday night into Sunday, including winds up to 80 km/h and low humidity.

Heavy rain is forecast next week that could douse the flames but also bring mudslides and floods on hillsides stripped of vegetation.

"It's a disheartening situation", she told reporters on Friday. "I want a great climate and we're going to have that and we're going to have forests that are very safe".

Over a thousand people are unaccounted for in the fires, and over 70 have been confirmed dead.

Even as hundreds of searchers sift through the rubble in the town of Paradise looking for the dead, almost 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire sparked in Butte County, Sheriff Kory Honea announced Saturday night.

The roster probably includes some who fled the blaze and do not realize they have been reported missing, he said.

"We are still receiving calls".

"The information I am providing you is raw data and we find there is the likely possibility that the list contains duplicate names", he said, adding that some people who had escaped could be unaware they were listed as missing. "This is a massive undertaking. We have hundreds and hundreds of people working on this".

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