Rain helps douse California fire but slows search crews

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The deadliest wildfire in the history of the USA state of California that has killed at least 85 people was finally brought under control after burning for more than two weeks, authorities said on Sunday.

A search team from Orange County spent Friday combing through ash and debris at a mobile home park in Paradise that had already been searched once by humans and dogs.

Authorities said the blaze was 95 percent contained two weeks after it swept across the Sierra Nevada foothills and burned more than 150,000 acres, leaving 475 people still missing just in that area, and 560 total across the state.

However, Brigitte Foster, a spokeswoman for the Camp Fire unified command unit, said that full containment does not mean the fire has been extinguished.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the Camp fire had been surrounded by firefighters after several days of rain in the Paradise area.


A total of 153,336 acres were affected by the fire, with almost 14,000 homes and hundreds of other structures destroyed.

The catastrophic wildfire in Northern California is almost out after several days of rain, but searchers are still completing the meticulous task of combing through now-muddy ash and debris for signs of human remains.

The death toll was increased late Saturday night by one, according to the Butte County Sheriff's Office.

Officials say three people were found dead and 1,643 structures, a lot of them homes, were destroyed.

"The fear is that the rain will drop in intense bursts", Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the federal Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said early Sunday.


Last week, 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) of rain fell there and turned ash from the thousands of destroyed homes into slurry, complicating the work of finding bodies reduced to bone fragments. The Butte County Sheriff's Office warned residents to be aware of risks associated to the weather.

"Prior to returning home, residents are encouraged to take steps to ensure they have food, water and fuel for their vehicles", said the statement. Cal Fire said it soon expects to have the blaze fully contained.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire.

On Wednesday, the same system is expected to deliver a half inch to 2 inches to the Woolsey fire area in Southern California. At the height of the fire, 250,000 fled their homes.


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