Three people have died from a wildfire raging in northern California, authorities said Wednesday. The wildfire, given the name ‘The North Complex Fire’, has also forced thousands of people to leave their homes.
The deaths took place at two separate locations, taking the total number of fatalities due to the wildfire, which has been raging since August 17, to 11. Of the three people who lost their lives, one person was found in a car and apparently had been trying to escape the flames California Highway Patrol Officer Ben Draper told the Bay Area News Group.
The North Complex Fire, which started as several separate blazes sparked by lightning, is one of more than two dozen burning in the California. including three of the five largest ever in the state. It has also threatened Paradise, a town devastated just two years ago by the deadliest blaze in state history that prompted a traffic jam as panicked residents tried to escape.
Since the middle of August, fires in California have destroyed more than 3,600 structures, burned old growth redwoods, charred chaparral and forced evacuations in communities near the coast, in wine country and along the Sierra Nevada.
The U.S. Forest Service, which had taken the unprecedented measure of closing eight national forests in Southern California earlier in the week, ordered all 18 of its forests in the state closed Wednesday for public safety.
Also, a power shutoff, effected to prevent electric lines from sparking wildfires, which had caused the Paradise fire, prevented people from getting up-to-date information by internet, TV or their home phones. Residents leaving the town due to the wildfire also created a traffic jam leading out of town.