California’s devastation from the air: Drone footage and aerial photos show full horror of the state’s wildfires – including town of Paradise that was completely wiped out by the blaze
- New drone footage shows how home after home was leveled in Paradise, where many of the 48 were killed
- Camp Fire is now the deadliest in state’s history, burning through more than 160,000 acres in just six days
- As of Wednesday the blaze only remains 35 percent contained and more than 200 people are still missing
- The statewide wildfire death toll rose to 51 on Wednesday after a third victim of the Woolsey Fire was found
14 November 2018
Home after home completely leveled, cars all burned to a crisp, everything in site either gray rubble or black ash.
This is the horrific portrait of devastation captured by new drone footage in Paradise, the Northern California town that was completely wiped out by the Camp Fire.
The Camp Fire is now the deadliest and most destructive fire in the state’s history, killing at least 48 people and destroying more than 6,500 homes and 260 buildings as it burned through more than 160,000 acres.
After six days, the blaze only remains 35 percent contained and more than 200 people are still missing
The new drone footage, obtained by ABC10, shows all that is left in Paradise, which was consumed so quickly by the Camp Fire that many victims didn’t even have time to start their cars. Some bodies were found laying next to vehicles.
New drone footage has revealed the extent of devastation in the town of Paradise, which was completely wiped out by a California wildfire
The devastating footage shows home after home completely leveled, cars all burned to a crisp, everything in site either gray rubble or black ash
Plot after plot of land, where houses in the popular retirement community of 27,000 once proudly stood, are now completely empty.
What was once bedrooms, kitchens, and backyards are now entirely indistinguishable, all reduced to similar looking pieces of rubble.
In one plot, all that eerily stands is a slew of porch steps leading up to a home that no longer exists.
On the opposite end of California, there were similar scenes of devastation as a Los Angeles sheriff shared aerial images of the Woolsey Fire’s destruction.
The heartbreaking photos, shared by Sheriff Jim McDonnell, show rows and rows of home reduced to rubble, the trees and vegetation surrounding them singed to nothingness.
‘While touring #WoolseyFire burn areas & seeing the devastation from above it brings a greater understanding that each house is a home,’ McDonnell tweeted alongside the photos on Tuesday. ‘Each home has a life & memories attached to it.’
Paradise was consumed so quickly by the Camp Fire that many victims didn’t even have time to start their cars and escape
The death toll for the Camp Fire rose to 48 on Tuesday night and more than 200 people remain missing, authorities said
Plot after plot of land, where houses in the popular retirement community of 27,000 once proudly stood, are now empty
The Camp Fire has destroyed more than 8,817 structures, including 7,600 homes, in less than a week since it first ignited
Aerial images have also been released that show the destruction of several celebrities’ homes, including the Malibu mansions of Robin Thicke and Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus.
The Woolsey Fire has killed three people – for a statewide total of 51 victims – and tore through more than 97,620 acres.
Authorities revealed on Wednesday that human remains were found in a burned home in Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County.
Two other bodies were found last week in a car that had been overtaken by flames. They have not yet been identified.
It has burned an area the size of Denver and destroying more than 400 structures and 80 percent of National Parks Service land in the Santa Monica Mountains.
As of Wednesday morning it was 47 percent contained and 57,000 structures still remain under threat.
In Paradise, authorities are currently working hard to identify more victims of the horrific blaze.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the devastation is so complete in some neighborhoods that ‘it’s very difficult to determine whether or not there may be human remains there’.
‘In some cases, the only remains we are able to recover are bones or bone fragments,’ Honea said, adding that these were so small that coroner’s investigators were using a wire basket to sift and sort them.
Honea said his office had received more than 1,500 requests for ‘welfare checks’ from people concerned about the fate of their loved ones.
Chaplains accompanied some coroner search teams that visited dozens of addresses belonging to people reported missing.
Authorities have set up a rapid DNA analysis system and brought in cadaver dogs and mobile morgue units from the military in an intensified effort to find and identify victims. They have also requested 150 additional search-and-rescue personnel.
On the opposite end of California, there were similar scenes of devastation as a Los Angeles sheriff shared aerial images of the Woolsey Fire’s destruction (pictured)
The heartbreaking photos, shared by Sheriff Jim McDonnell, show rows and rows of home reduced to rubble, the trees and vegetation surrounding them singed to nothingness
The Woolsey Fire has killed two people and tore through more than 97,620 acres, burning an area the size of Denver and destroying more than 400 structures and 80 percent of National Parks Service land
The Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire, and Hill Fire are all still blazing across California as of Wednesday morning, as the map shows
An additional 100 National Guard troops have also been asked to join teams already looking for human remains.
‘We want to be able to cover as much ground as quickly as we possibly can. This is a very difficult task,’ Honea said on Tuesday night.
Ernest Foss, 63, Jesus ‘Zeus’ Fernandez, 48, Carl Wiley, 77, Ellen Walker, Lolene Rios, 58, and Debbe Morningstar, 65, are the first six Camp Fire victims to be publicly identified.
Foss was a rock and roll musician who raised three children as a single father in San Francisco, where he built a recording studio in their small Bay Area home and taught music lessons.
He moved to Paradise eight years ago to escape the rising costs of San Francisco.
Angela Loo, Foss’ daughter, said he was bedridden and had been living with advanced lymphedema for 10 years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
His body was found next to his beloved service dog Bernice outside his home, which he shared with a stepson and caretaker, near his minivan.
Aerial images have also been released that show the destruction of several celebrities’ homes, including Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus’ Malibu mansion (pictured)
Aerial images also showed that the fire had completely wiped out the home Robin Thicke shared with April Love Geary
A number of celebrities have lost their houses in the Woolsey fire, including Neil Young, Kim Basinger, Robin Thicke, Camille Grammer and Gerard Butler
Loo believes his stepbrother may have been able to get him into a wheelchair and near the car. Foss’ caretaker, Andrew Burt, remains missing.
Rios and her husband Rick, 69, had both relocated in Paradise after losing their home to another fire in Concow in the 1990s.
The retired couple, like many in the town, only found out about the blaze when it was too late.
Rick saw their neighbor’s house up in flames and went on the roof, hoping he could still save their house by taking out any spot fires.
Rios went to the basement as she began gathering the family’s dogs. In moments, their house was ablaze.
Rick was rescued by firefighters who pulled him off the roof. He is now recovering in the hospital with severe burns on his hands and face, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
‘My dad is in a lot of pain,’ Maria Rios said. ‘He keeps saying, “I have no skin, no skin”. As soon as he heard my voice, he broke down. He kept saying, “Everything is gone. Everything is gone.”’
Carl Wiley will be buried next to his wife in a cemetery in Magalia, which was also devastated by the Camp Fire.
Ernest Foss, 63, of Paradise (left), and Jesus ‘Zeus’ Fernandez, 48, of Concow (right), both died in the Camp Fire in California
Family members of Lolene Rios, 58, (right) have also identified her as another victim in Paradise. Her husband Rick Rios, 69, (left) barely made it out of their home alive
Debbe Morningstar, 65, (pictured) was retired and lived in Paradise for more than 30 years. While she had evacuated her home during previous fires, she decided not to leave her home on Thursday
James Wiley said his father, a former tire recapper for Michelin, will share a headstone with his wife Mary Lee, who died of cancer nearly three decades ago.
Fernandez, who also lived in Paradise, was remembered as the ‘epitome of determination, respect, loyalty, and perseverance’.
‘A tireless provider, a dependable and loyal friend, a considerate neighbor, and loving father, he will be sorely missed by all who knew him,’ said family friend Myrna Pascua.
Morningstar was retired and lived in Paradise for more than 30 years. While she had evacuated her home during previous fires, she decided not to leave on Thursday.
Several victims of the Camp Fire filed lawsuits against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in San Francisco County Superior Court on Tuesday.
The suit accuses PG&E of being responsible for the destructive blaze, claiming it failed to properly maintain its equipment and infrastructure.
PG&E informed the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that a high-voltage power line experienced a problem near the origin of the Camp Fire just minutes before the blaze broke out.
A rescuer works among debris after the wildfire in Paradise on Tuesday. Several victims of the Camp Fire have since filed lawsuits against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in San Francisco County Superior Court
The suit accuses PG&E of being responsible for the destructive blaze, claiming it failed to properly maintain its equipment and infrastructure. Pictured is Paradise on Tuesday
A volunteer search and rescue crew from Calaveras County comb through a home destroyed by the Camp Fire in Paradise on Tuesday afternoon
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea revealed that the remains of 13 additional people were located on Monday. Honea said 10 human remains were located in Paradise. Seven of those were found in homes and three outside
The Camp fire originated on Camp Creek Road near Highway 70 around 6.30am on Thursday.
Betsy Ann Cowley lives on 64 acres in Pulga, right next to the junction with Camp Creek Road. Cowley revealed that PG&E emailed her the day before the fire began and said it needed to investigate power lines on her land.
The email said the company was sending employees to work on the high-power lines because ‘they were having problems with sparks’.
And, two days before the fire started, PG&E told customers in nine counties, including Butte County, that it might shut off their power November 8 because of extreme fire danger.
But the utility company called off the shutdown, telling customers nine hours after the Camp Fire began that the weather conditions ‘did not warrant this safety measure’.
Mike Danko, a lawyer representing the Camp Fire victims, claims that the company did not go through with the planned shutdown on November 8 because company bonuses are tied to customer complaints.
‘This is the worst of them all, because PG&E knew what to do to prevent the fire, knew what the risks of a fire are, and instead lined their pockets at the expense of customer safety,’ he said.
Honea said his team is working to identify the remains and notify the next of kin as soon as possible.Forensic investigators search a community swimming pool for victims of the Camp Fire in Paradise on Tuesday
Danko said he expects more lawsuits against PG&E will be filed soon.
‘They’ve destroyed people’s lives, killed people and burned down many houses – in fact, an entire town,’ he told the San Francisco Chronicle. ‘At some point, there has to be accountability.’
The cause of the fire remains under investigation but CalFire spokesman Scott McLean said ‘electric equipment’ was being included in the probe.
Tensions ran high as the Paradise Town Council held a meeting on Tuesday night where resident Michael Orr called on Mayor Jody Jones, who was just reelected last week, to resign following the response to the blaze.
Orr blamed Jones for the town’s chaotic evacuation and rising death toll. Jones said she has no plans to resign.
‘Well people died, yes. It did not go perfectly,’ she told CBS San Francisco. ‘I don’t know that we could have had a plan that was better. We couldn’t get everyone out because you can’t fit 26,000 people out of the road at the same time.’
Jones said the town had put together an evacuation plan after a fire through it in 2008.
The plan called for Paradise to evacuate neighborhood by neighborhood, and they even practiced it last year, but it fell to pieces within moments on Thursday.
Authorities believe the new flare-up (pictured) was caused by what are known as ‘red flag conditions’, in which low humidity and high winds combine to make the perfect conditions for a wildland fire combustion
The blaze (seen on Tuesday) has prompted new evacuations at the same time thousands of residents are finally being allowed back into their neighborhoods after the Woolsey Fire first ignited on Tuesday
The Woolsey fire continued to burn largely out of control in southern California on Tuesday night after hurricane-strength winds fanned flames in the Santa Monica Mountains, causing a flare-up which burned 50 acres in 30 minutes (pictured left)
‘I don’t know that you could build the infrastructure to evacuate an entire town that quickly,’ she said. ‘I just don’t know if that’s possible.’
Harold Taylor, 72, saw flames behind his house when he received a call on Thursday morning to evacuate. He left with just the clothes on his back.
‘We didn’t have 10 minutes to get out of there,’ the Vietnam veteran, who uses a cane, told the Associated Press. ‘It was already in flames downtown, all the local restaurants and stuff.’
‘It happened so fast,’ added resident Greg Gibson. ‘It would have been such an easy decision to stay, but it was the wrong choice.’
US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will visit Paradise on Wednesday after canceling a planned trip to Asia at the direction of the White House. He then plans to visit a community devastated by the Woolsey Fire.
Zinke’s visit comes nearly a week after President Donald Trump drew widespread criticism after he blamed the deadly fires on ‘poor forest management’ and even threatened to withhold federal funds.
Another flare-up also broke out dangerously close to homes in Rialto, California (pictured) around 9pm on Tuesday night
The Sierra Fire (pictured on Tuesday night), as its been dubbed, burned 20 acres in just minutes and tore through 147 acres by Wednesday morning
Fire crews fought against 50mph winds as a number of power lines, as well as some backyards and a palm tree, caught on fire
No evacuations were ordered, but traffic in the area (pictured) became backed up as residents scrambled to leave anyway
Trump has since approved a major disaster declaration for the state, hastening the availability of federal emergency assistance to fire-stricken regions.
The major-disaster declaration will also make victims eligible for crisis counseling, housing and unemployment help, and legal aid.
Although California’s wildfires have been burning for nearly a week, high winds and low humidity are continuing to fuel the flames.
The Woolsey Fire ripped through 50 acres in 30 minutes in the Santa Monica Mountains on Tuesday afternoon as hurricane-force winds of 85mph sparked a new flare-up. It burned a total of 1,000 acres in the Lake Sherwood area.
Authorities believe the flare-up was caused by what are known as ‘red flag conditions’, in which low humidity and high winds combine to make the perfect conditions for a wildland fire combustion.
‘It’s critically dry with incredibly strong winds, so that really puts us back into a day where we could see rapid fire spread as a result of any new fires or flare-ups,’ Cal Fire Division Chief Chris Anthony told the Los Angeles Times.
Rains aren’t expected to hit the parched area until Thanksgiving next week, according to the National Weather Service.
‘We are not out of the woods yet,’ added Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen. ‘We still have incredibly tough conditions ahead of us.’
Another flare-up also broke out dangerously close to homes in Rialto around 9pm on Tuesday night, burning 20 acres in just minutes and tearing through 147 acres by Wednesday morning, according to KABC.
Fire crews had to fight against 50mph winds as a number of power lines, as well as some backyards and one palm tree, caught on fire.
No evacuations were ordered, but traffic in the area became backed up as residents scrambled to leave anyway.
Camille Grammer also revealed on Sunday that she had lost her home, saying it ‘couldn’t be saved’ and posting a picture of it up in flames
The Kardashian clan, Simon Cowell, Will Smith and Martin Sheen were also among those who had to evacuate as Woolsey tore through the star-studded Malibu, Hidden Hills, and Calabasas areas
Strong wind gusts thankfully sent most of the flames away from the homes and no structures caught on fire. As of Wednesday the fire was holding at 147 acres and has 75 percent containment.
No structures are under threat but the San Bernardino Fire Department said crews will continue to monitor neighborhoods for embers, mop up hot spots, and keep an eye on wind conditions.
Yet another flare-up occurred Wednesday morning in uninhabited areas in the Santa Monica Mountains, but the flames had mostly subsided by 6.30am and was far from any homes.
Winds are expected to significantly weaken by Wednesday afternoon and authorities plan to lift the red flag levels. But low humidity levels will keep the danger levels just one below the red flag level at ‘elevated’.
Fire officials were able to lift evacuation orders early Tuesday in all or parts of about five communities in Ventura and Los Angeles counties – including the star-studded Hidden Hills, Calabasas, and Malibu.
As many as 250,000 people were ordered to evacuate when Woolsey was at its peak.
The Kardashian clan, Simon Cowell, Will Smith, and Lady Gaga were just a few of the dozens of celebrities who had to evacuate.
And Gerard Butler, Neil Young, and Camille Grammer Meyer were among those who lost their homes in the blaze.
Large areas of Los Angeles still remain off-limits due to downed power lines, embers that could re-ignite, buckled roads, and lack of power and communications.
But there was some good news for Southern California as the Hill Fire, which has also been burning through the weekend, reached 94 percent containment on Wednesday after scorching 4,531 acres in Ventura County.
The cause for the Woolsey fire remains unknown, but Southern California Edison reported to the CPUC that there was an outage on an electric circuit right by the area where the Woolsey Fire first began.
Just two minutes after the outage occurred on Thursday afternoon, the first reports of the fire started coming in.
SoCal Edison said it has received no indication that its equipment was involved in the fire, but authorities said the cause remains under investigation.
But Alex Robertson, a plaintiff lawyer who has brought cases against SoCal Edison in the past, said he plans to file ‘several dozen’ lawsuits against the utility company this week.