Death toll from California fires likely to soar, with nearly 1,300 people still missing


Death toll from California fires likely to soar, with nearly 1,300 people still missing

David Brown

18 November 2019

The death toll from wildfires in California could rise to more than 1,000, which would make it one of the deadliest and most horrific disasters in modern American history. While the official number of dead from the Camp Fire in Northern California rose to 76 over the weekend, nearly 1,300 are listed as missing, many of them elderly.

Confirmed fatalities have only been added at around eight each day, as investigators meticulously comb through the destruction. Given the nearly 10,000 homes destroyed and the chaos of the evacuation, the final number killed will almost certainly be much higher. To this must be added the untold health consequences from the extreme air pollution that has spread throughout Northern California.

Due to the intensity of the fire, in many cases the only remains recovered are teeth or a human bone—making it difficult to identify victims. Many residents of the small California town of Paradise faced the last moments of their lives in the most horrific manner, as flames engulfed their homes or senior living facilities when they were still in bed.


Samantha, whose father and step-sister both lost their family homes in the fire, told the World Socialist Web Site on Sunday, “There was no kind of warning or anything like that.” As for the death toll, she said, “I think it’s going to be with a comma”—that is, over 1,000.

In an attempt at damage control, President Donald Trump joined Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom to tour affected areas on Saturday. Aside from the usual platitudes and vague promises about federal aid, none of the politicians had anything substantive to say…

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