California wildfires claim first victim

  • 10/12/2017

The out-of-control California wildfires have claimed their first victim.

A woman's body has been found at a crash site along an evacuation route, with officials saying the 70-year-old died when her car crashed after she suffered smoke inhalation.

Six blazes are burning out of control in separate parts of the state, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

Governor Jerry Brown will survey the destruction on Saturday (local time), as firefighters rush to contain the blazes before dry desert winds intensify.

Forecasters predict wind gusts to become more intense by Saturday night, challenging the 8,700 firefighters who have been battling the fast-moving blazes for five days.

The winds "potentially put the fires that are currently burning at risk of spreading," said Lynne Tolmachoff, spokeswoman for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The spreading fires prompted Mr Brown to issue emergency proclamations earlier this week for Santa Barbara, San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura counties, while US President Donald Trump issued a federal proclamation that enables agencies to coordinate relief efforts.

The fires have put property worth billions of dollars at risk in California, where wildfires in the northern part of the state in October resulted in insured losses of more than US$9 billion (NZ$13 billion). Those fires, concentrated in the state's wine country, killed 43 people.

Reuters / Newshub.