California wildfires destroy thousands of homes, leaving 23,000 people displaced

An elderly woman with disabilities has reportedly died

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California’s Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency as raging wildfires sweep across the state destroying hundreds of homes and forcing thousands of residents to flee.

More than 1,000 firefighters have fought the Valley Fire, which had grown to 50,000 acres (78 square-miles) by Sunday, displacing 23,000 people.

One person, reported to be an elderly woman with disabilities, has died.


Emergency dispatchers received a call requesting assistance for a woman in Hot Springs Road, Cobb Mountain, but on arrival, emergency crews found the building entirely engulfed in flames, according to the LA Times. Her remains were reportedly found after the fire had subsided.

"The resident was apparently unable to self-evacuate and responders were unable to make it to her home before the fire engulfed the structure," Lt Steve Brooks of the Lake County Sheriff’s office said in a statement on the paper's website.

Governor Brown’s announcement will help expedite debris removal and waive fees to replace essential documents like birth certificates for those who have been forced to abandon their homes.


A firefighter looks on while a house is engulfed in flames during the Valley fire in Seigler Springs, California on September 13, 2015.

Daniel Berlant, California Fire Department’s Chief of Public Information said wind gusts that reached up to 30mph sent embers raining down on homes, making it hard for firefighters to stop the Lake County blaze, The Guardian reports.

Four fire fighters were injured on Saturday. They were all members of a helicopter crew and suffered second-degree burns.

The fire is reported to have erupted on Saturday afternoon about 50 miles west of Sacramento, the state capital. It rapidly burned through brush and trees parched from several years of drought.

Thousands fled over the weekend as mandatory evacuations were ordered for the communities of Cobb, Middletown, Harbin Hot Springs and Big Canyon Road.

A firefighter with the Marin County Fire Department's Tamalpais Fire Crew ignite a backfire with a driptorch as he battles the Valley Fire on September 13, 2015 near Middletown, California.

A dead horse lays on the side of a road while firefighters continue to battle the Valley fire in Middletown, California on September 13, 2015.

California firefighters are also battling the Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties, which are about 70 miles east of Sacramento. The fire has grown to 65,000 acres (101 square-miles), Cal Fire reported.

It threatens around 6,150 homes.