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Camp Fire becomes deadliest wildfire in California's history as death toll climbs to 42

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
November 13, 2018, 6:51:45 AM EST

The Camp Fire has now become the deadliest wildfire in California's history. Forty-two fatalities have been confirmed by officials, and the death toll may continue to rise.

The Griffith Park Fire from October of 1933 ranks as the second-deadliest wildfire in the state's history.

The Camp Fire is also the most destructive individual fire in California's history, with the number of structures destroyed surpassing 6,700. Previously, the most destructive fire was the Tubbs fire which destroyed 5,636 structures in October of 2017.

The Camp Fire ignited around 6:30 a.m. local time Thursday and has burned 117,000 acres and is 30 percent contained. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

More than 200 people remain missing, according to the Associated Press (AP).

(AP Photo/John Locher)

People sit by their tents at a makeshift encampment outside a Walmart store for people displaced by the Camp Fire, on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Chico, California.

Sudhin Thanawala/AP

Volunteer members of an El Dorado County search and rescue team search the ruins of a home, looking for human remains, in Paradise, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, following a Northern California wildfire.

John Locher/AP

Dakota Keltner, right, rests on Havyn Cargill-Morris in a truck at a makeshift encampment outside a Walmart store for people displaced by the Camp Fire, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Chico, Calif. The two, from Magalia, Calif., escaped the fire with their families.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A vehicle drives through smoke from a wildfire near Pulga, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018.

(AP Photo/John Locher)

Officials stand over human remains at a burned out home destroyed by the Camp Fire, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Paradise, Calif.

(AP Photo/John Locher)

A bag containing human remains lies on the ground as officials continue to search at a burned out home at the Camp Fire, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Paradise, Calif.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A vintage car rests among debris as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

(Photo/Jason Weinrich)

The sun being obscured by wildfire smoke.


Cars driving through flames as people evacuate from the Camp Fire.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

As the Camp Fire burns nearby, a scorched car rests by gas pumps near Pulga, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018.

(AP Photo/Nicole Kowalczyke)

This photo provided by Nicole Kowalczyke shows a piece of a burned page that fell out of the sky in Chico, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, as the Camp Fire burns nearby.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.


Smoke from the Camp Fire as seen from North Chico, California.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Flames consume a home as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. A California fire official says a fast-moving wildfire in Northern California has destroyed structures and injured civilians.

(Twitter Photo/@CAL_FIRE)

(Photo/Berkeley Firefighters)

(Photo/Berkeley Firefighters)

(Twitter Photo/@JasonHalley_CSU)

(Twitter Photo/@CAL_FIRE)

(Twitter Photo/@JasonHalley_CSU)

(Twitter Photo/@Harrisonfresh)

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Flames burn inside a van as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Flames consume a car dealership as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

On Thursday afternoon, a state of emergency was declared in Butte County in response to the growing Camp Fire. On Friday, President Donald Trump approved California's Emergency Declaration, allowing federal assistance to be open to the state due to the wildfires.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. However, on Friday afternoon, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said that it experienced a problem with an electric line near the location where the Camp Fire started, according to the AP. It is unclear if this contributed to the start of the wildfire.

An evacuation order was issued for all of Paradise, home to over 27,000 people, where many had only minutes to flee the rapidly spreading blaze.

“Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it’s that kind of devastation,” Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean said via the AP. “The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out.”

McLean said Friday morning that the blaze had nearly quadrupled in size on Thursday night.

As the Camp Fire grew on Thursday night, evacuation orders expanded into the city of Chico, California, where over 93,000 people live.

While the California State University campus in Chico remains safe, classes have been canceled through Thanksgiving.

"After significant and careful consideration of many factors, including fire conditions, air quality, and impacts to our faculty, staff, and students, classes are suspended until Monday, Nov. 26, following the fall break," a statement issued by the university read.

Several shelters have opened for evacuees, but many are quickly filling up.

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No traffic is being allowed into the town of Paradise. At least 60 patients were evacuated from the Feather River Hospital.

Multiple road closures were in effect.

“This fire is very dangerous, please evacuate if asked to do so!”, Cal Fire officials said on Twitter. Over 4,000 fire personnel are working to control the blaze.

In addition, a multi-day Santa Ana wind event is creating a dangerous situation in Southern California early this week.

"At this point, AccuWeather estimates that the total damage and economic impact of the California wildfires has already reached $50-60 billion, and will likely exceed $100 billion-$200 billion by next week based on currently forecasted conditions of strong winds and very little moisture combined with dry grounds due to months of drought," Dr. Joel Myers, Founder and President of AccuWeather, said.

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