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Toll rises to 77 in deadliest California wildfire

Toll rises to 77 in deadliest California wildfire

President Donald Trump expressed sadness Saturday at the devastation caused by fires in a California town, but persisted in his controversial claim that forest mismanagement was responsible for the tragedy, which has killed 76 and left more than 1,200 listed as missing.

"I was watching the firemen the other day and they were raking areas", Mr Trump said.

More than a dozen people are listed as "unknowns", without first or last names. However, not all of them may be missing, as officials still need to follow up on many past reports.

Like Trump, Valachovic said the problem is solvable - but through long-term programs of community education, controlled burns, forest-thinning programs and economic incentives. Usually vocal critics of Trump, the two men stood silently by, nodding along with sombre expressions as the president spoke. On "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Brown said that in "less than five years, even the worst skeptics are going to be believers" in climate change.

"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor", Trump tweeted.

Honea said among the dead was Lolene Rios, 56, whose son Jed tearfully told KXTV in Sacramento that his mother "had endless amount of love for me". "So I think we're on a good path". "The workers looking for remains are going to be stuck with this".

Paradise was home to almost 27,000 residents before it was largely incinerated by a fast-moving fire on the night of November 8. It was 65 per cent contained. Brown said Sunday he had been told the fires had spread "a football length - 100 yards - a second".




People hugged and shed tears as Pastor Jesse Kearns recited a prayer for firefighters, rescuers and search teams: "We ask for continued strength as they are growing tired right now", Kearns said. "Federal government provides some help and a lot of money and some expertise".

Emergency services stepped up their efforts on Monday to find remains of victims of California's deadliest ever wildfire as almost 1,000 people remained unaccounted for, but rain expected this week could make that search harder and raise the risk of risky mudslides.

The Woolsey fire has been linked with three fatalities and has destroyed at least 500 structures in the mountains and foothills near the Malibu coast west of Los Angeles.

Trump and his advisers have also previously blamed Canadian lumber imports as a reason fallen trees haven't been removed from forests, creating more fuel for the forest fires.

Asked if he believed climate change had played any role in the fires, Trump again pointed to the forest "management factor" and insisted that his "strong opinion" remained unchanged.

Besides the toll on human life, property losses from the blaze make it the most destructive in California history, posing the additional challenge of providing long-term shelter for many thousands of displaced residents.

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