All evacuation orders lifted in deadly California wildfire

PARADISE, Calif. – All evacuation orders have been lifted in Paradise more than a month after a devastating wildfire that wiped out the Northern California town. The fire that broke out Nov. 8 killed at least 86 people and destroyed 14,000 homes in Paradise and nearby communities in the Sierra Nevada foothills. This will be … Continue reading “All evacuation orders lifted in deadly California wildfire”

PARADISE, Calif. – All evacuation orders have been lifted in Paradise more than a month after a devastating wildfire that wiped out the Northern California town.

The fire that broke out Nov. 8 killed at least 86 people and destroyed 14,000 homes in Paradise and nearby communities in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

This will be the first time many residents get to see their property since fleeing the firestorm.

The Butte County health officer issued an advisory strongly urging people not to live on destroyed property until it is declared clear of hazardous waste, ash and debris. The county is providing masks, gloves and protective suits to reduce exposure to toxic materials.

Authorities also warned of an increased risk for flash flooding in the burn areas.

Report details firefighters’ harrowing work in Paradise

On the first day fighting the deadly Northern California wildfire that destroyed the city of Paradise last month, a crew setting a back burn to stop the blaze was suddenly overrun by flames when erratic winds suddenly shifted.

One state prison inmate firefighter tried to escape the flames and ran into a barbed wire fence along Rattlesnake Flats Road. Another inmate cleared the fence on the other side of the road, but his gear snagged the barbed wire and he tumbled face-down. Flames ignited his hair, beard and mustache and burned his face and neck. A fire captain nearby was also seriously burned.

Those close calls with death were detailed in a report Thursday by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on five serious firefighter injuries that also described harrowing conditions firefighters faced in the so-called Camp Fire that broke out Nov. 8, decimating the town of Paradise, killing at least 86 people and destroying 14,000 homes.

Although the firefighters were seriously injured, they were lucky they weren't hurt worse, said Scott McLean, a spokesman for CalFire.

"We had several angels over us that day," McLean said.

Conditions leading into the fire were exceptionally dry. Typically autumn rains would have fallen by that time of year, but less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain had fallen in seven months.

The blaze started around 6:30 a.m. and spread at "incredible speed," consuming 7 square miles (18 square kilometers) an hour at one point, the report said. Driven by wind gusts up to 35 mph (56 kph), it marched 15 miles (24 kilometers) in 12 hours with spot fires blowing a mile (1.6 kilometers) ahead of fire lines.

Although fire ripped through the area 10 years earlier, when flames jumped the west fork of the Feather River it entered dense forest that had not burned in recorded history. Treetops were close together and heavy manzanita and oaks below were ripe for burning.

By the time it hit Paradise, it was an "urban firestorm" spreading among buildings in a manner the report compared to the allied bombings that razed the city of Hamburg, Germany in World War II and killed tens of thousands of people.

Before dawn the following morning, two firefighters preparing to protect homes near Magalia were struck and injured by shrapnel when a 250-gallon (946-liter) propane tank exploded.

One firefighter was struck with embers and pieces of a fence and was disoriented as he was knocked to one knee. A fire captain was hit with burning sticks, pine cones and molten aluminum.

Those two and the men overcome the day before on Rattlesnake Flat Road were all taken to hospital burn centers for treatment, McLean said.

The worst of the injured, the captain overrun in the backfire operation, was just released from a hospital a little more than a week ago.

California fire survivors share lessons in loss, recovery

CHICO, Calif. – Survivors of a deadly blaze that tore through California wine country last year shared lessons of loss and pain but also resilience with those who escaped the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century last month.

A group of wine country residents spent a day in a packed meeting with those who lived in Paradise and several nearby communities who peppered them with questions, The Press Democrat newspaper in Santa Rosa reported Wednesday.

They asked about dealing with insurance companies, cleanup and rebuilding. But they also wanted to know about the rollercoaster of emotions.

The main advice from wildfire survivors who lost their homes after a fire roared through several Santa Rosa neighborhoods 14 months ago was to question everything and band together like never before.

"I'd like to say we know what you went through, but what you went through was so much more," said Anne Barbour, whose home in Santa Rosa's Coffey Park neighborhood was among the first to be rebuilt. "Step up and take your town back, because what we've created is one hell of a community."

Barbour was one of eight residents who spent Tuesday meeting with about 75 Paradise-area residents facing the kind of grief and uncertainty they began grappling with more than a year ago.

The Tubbs Fire in October 2017 destroyed nearly 5,300 homes and killed at least 22 people. It was the most destructive wildfire in California history until Nov. 8, when a massive blaze swept through Paradise and nearby communities, destroying nearly 14,000 homes and killing at least 86 people.

"You will find yourselves mad at inanimate objects," said Jeff Okrepkie, who founded the Coffey Strong group in the northwest Santa Rosa neighborhood that lost 1,321 homes. "I'm talking about a door that won't close properly, and now I'm swearing at it for five minutes because I'm mad at the world."

The meeting was held in Chico, about a 25-minute drive west of Paradise where the Camp Fire leveled the entire town.

Alan Rellaford, 58, said drone video shows his Paradise home still stands but he does not know when he will be able to return. His wife is undergoing treatment for cancer and needs a safe, clean home more than ever.

"The people who have been through it — they are coming through in magnificent ways," Rellaford said. "They know we need more than paper towels and sweat shirts."

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Information from: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, http://www.pressdemocrat.com

Body cam video shows police officers catching boy who jumped from burning apartment

A trio of sure-handed police officers caught an 8-year-old boy who jumped from his burning Texas apartment early Monday morning, stunning body cam footage shows.

Officers Tyler Gross, Corey Jones and David Fields with the Balch Springs Police Department arrived at the apartment complex before firefighters made it to the scene. Body cam footage shows the trio alerting residents and neighbors to the fire roaring nearby — when they suddenly discover a mother and her son trapped in a second-floor unit.

“[We were] scared to death because you know what fire does and how fast it moves,” Fields told WFAA.

Keisha Sowels and her 8-year-old son, Kingston, were trapped inside the apartment, and the only way out was through a window — which she couldn't open, Sowels told FOX4.

The body camera footage shows officers telling Sowels to try to kick out the glass, and when that doesn't work, Jones is seen throwing a baton at the window to smash it.

He and the other officers then encourage Kingston to jump.

“He was just scared,” Jones told FOX4. “I think anybody would be with flames behind them and a jump before him. He knew that we were down there, and we’re going to catch him. He didn’t think twice and jumped out the window.”

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The three officers were able to catch Kingston and, soon after, the fire department arrived and got Sowels to safety using a ladder.

“We’re good, buddy,” Jones can be heard telling the young boy after the leap. “Hey, that was a good jump, man. That was a good jump.”

Police said no one in the apartment complex was seriously hurt in the fire; however, several apartments were damaged by the flames. The fire itself is considered “suspicious” and is under investigation, FOX4 reported.

“I just thank God that they took the time to do what they were called to do as officers and firefighters,” Sowels said. “I really appreciate it. I am totally grateful…Y’all are definitely angels in my eyes, and I really appreciate it and I am grateful for the rest of my life.”

Jones told WFFA he believes any cop would have acted the same way as he and his fellow officers.

“Not wait for fire, not wait for anyone else,” he said. “We’re going to do what we can to help anyone that we can.”

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

New York City strip mall fire leaves several injured, including six firefighters

A massive fire at a New York City strip mall erupted early Thursday and left at least 11 people injured, including six firefighters, officials said.

The four-alarm blaze broke out at a Queens strip mall at around 2 a.m., according to New York's WNBC-TV. The fire started somewhere near the first floor of the building and quickly spread, fire officials said.

More than 160 firefighters responded to the fire as it quickly engulfed a restaurant, lingerie store and hardware store, the station reported.

One witness reported seeing a fireball as firefighters were getting out of one of the buildings.

“I saw three firefighters just on the ground on Queens Boulevard, they flew out of the basement, and I saw one of the guys picked up his helmet and he ran back there to do his job. I was terrified,” the witness told New York's WABC-TV.

All 11 people suffered minor injuries from the fire. Officials have warned nearby residents to avoid the area as firefighters continue to douse the flames. It was unclear how the fire started.

Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.

Correction: California Wildfires-Cleanup story

SAN FRANCISCO – In a story Dec. 11 about California wildfires, The Associated Press reported erroneously that insurance carriers paid $11.8 billion to 2017 Northern California wine country wildfire victims. Insurance companies paid $10 billion.

A corrected version of the story is below:

California wildfires cleanup to cost at least $3 billion

Authorities estimate it will cost at least $3 billion to clear debris of 19,000 homes destroyed by California wildfires last month

By PAUL ELIAS

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — State and federal authorities estimated Tuesday that it will cost at least $3 billion to clear debris from 19,000 homes and businesses destroyed by three California wildfires last month.

The disaster relief officials said the cleanup costs will far surpass the record cleanup expense of $1.3 billion the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent on debris removal in Northern California in 2017.

California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said the state will manage cleanup contracts this time. Hundreds of Northern California homeowners complained contractors last year paid by the ton hauled away too much dirt and damaged unbroken driveways, sidewalks and pipes. The state OES spent millions of dollars repairing that damage.

Ghilarducci said the state OES will hire auditors and monitors to watch over the debris removal in hopes of cutting down on the number of over-eager contractors.

"We learned a great number of things," last year, Ghilarducci said.

He said the U.S. Corps of Engineers was asked to lead the effort last year because state resources were stretched thin after responding to more than a dozen wildfires. This year, he said state officials can manage the cleanup and costs will be shared among state, federal and local authorities.

He said he expects the cleanup to begin in January and take about a year to complete. State and federal officials are currently removing hazardous household materials from the damaged properties.

Most of the work will occur in Northern California, where the state's most destructive wildfire destroyed the city of Paradise.

The death toll from the Camp Fire stood at 86 on Tuesday, after the Butte County Sheriff's office said that a Paradise man had died of his burn injuries in a hospital nearly three weeks after the Nov. 8 blaze. The number of people on the unaccounted-for list remains at 3.

Insurance companies estimate the industry will face at least $10 billion in claims from homeowners and businesses destroyed or damaged in the latest wildfires.

California's insurance commissioner said the carriers received $10 billion in claims because of the 2017 wine country fires.

Dave Jones has warned increasing risk from wildfires in California could prompt insurers to raise premiums or decline to sell policies entirely to homes in high-risk areas.

California woman’s cat found waiting at wildfire-ravaged property: ‘You made it!’

Courtney Werblow was in tears when she returned to the Paradise, Calif. property where her parent’s home once stood. But it wasn’t the ravaged property that had her crying. Rather, it was the sight of her beloved cat, Timber.

“Come on Timber! Come on baby girl! Hi baby girl, come on!” Werblow can be heard saying in a now-viral video as she shakes a bowl of food for the hesitant feline.

DOG WAITS FOR OWNERS TO RETURN TO CALIFORNIA PROPERTY DESTROYED BY WILDFIRE

“You look so good,” she says, breaking into tears as Timber approaches."You made it! You made it! It's okay baby. We are right here. We are here for you!"

Timber, a female with beige coloring and a brown face, is  “special” Werblow told ABC10. The California woman said Timber came into her life after she and her husband married and she was expecting their second child.

Timber was living with Werblow’s parents at the time the Camp Fire blazed through the Butte County area because her rental property did not allow cats.

“NEVER LOSE HOPE! One month today since the fire, we received an escort to my parents' property & my cat Timber was discovered!! She’s alive. Praise God!!” she wrote alongside the video, which had more 720,000 views as of Wednesday morning.

“Amen, this is absolutely amazing news, Praise God, I’m so happy I’m all choked up,” one Facebook user wrote in response.

“I’m so touched by this story. I had to watch it several times. I hope things get better & better for your family,” another added.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES CLEANUP TO COST AT LEAST $3 BILLION

Werblow told the news station finding Timber alive was a “much-needed moments of hope” for her family after the Camp Fire — which burned more than 150,000 acres, destroyed nearly 14,000 structures and killed 86 people, according to Cal Fire —destroyed everything they had.

Werblow’s story of Timber echoes that of another pet owner in Paradise whose dog was found waiting at the scorched property a month after the wildfire ripped through the area.

Courtney Werblow did not immediately return Fox News' request for additional comment Wednesday.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

The Latest: Man speaks about 5 young cousins killed in fire

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Latest on an Ohio house fire that killed five children (all times local):

6 p.m.

An Ohio man says the house fire that killed his five young cousins occurred while his aunt was spending rare time with all of her children under one roof.

Firefighters say the woman jumped from a second-floor window and was the only survivor of the blaze in Youngstown. They haven't publicly identified the hospitalized woman.

Seventeen-year-old Edgar Daniel Negron said his aunt has been studying nursing and her children sometimes stayed with relatives or their godparents, but they were all together Sunday night.

Negron set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with funeral costs.

City Councilwoman Anita Davis says the community also plans a fundraiser dinner next week to benefit the family.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Officials say there's no sign the blaze was suspicious.

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5:05 p.m.

A woman injured in an Ohio house fire that killed her five young children is being treated at a Cleveland hospital.

A spokeswoman for MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland says the woman was in critical condition as of Monday evening.

Firefighters say the mother jumped from a second-floor window and was the only survivor of the Sunday night blaze in Youngstown. They haven't publicly identified her.

Neighbor Aaron Baldwin says the anguished mother was naked and bleeding when she appeared at his door screaming for help to try to save her children. Baldwin says by then the house across the street was engulfed in flames, with no way for neighbors to rush inside.

The cause is under investigation. Fire officials say there's no sign that the blaze was suspicious.

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4:30 p.m.

A woman who says she was a babysitter for five young children killed in an Ohio house fire is tearfully remembering their personalities.

Virgen Bonilla stopped outside the charred Youngstown home on Monday to leave flowers at a makeshift memorial and shared some memories of the children.

She says 9-year-old Aleysha Rosario loved to dance, and 3-year-old Charles Gunn liked to sing in Spanish. Bonilla says 2-year-old Ly'Asia Gunn was quieter.

The blaze late Sunday night also killed 1-year-old twins Brianna and Arianna Negron.

Bonilla says she is good friends with their mother, who is studying nursing.

Fire officials say the mother jumped from a second-floor window and was the only survivor of the fire.

The cause is under investigation. Officials say there's no sign the blaze was suspicious.

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3:40 p.m.

An Ohio coroner's office has identified the five young children killed in a late-night house fire that injured their mother.

Fire officials in Youngstown say the hospitalized woman jumped from a second-floor window and is the only survivor of the Sunday blaze.

The Mahoning County Coroner's Office on Monday identified the children as 9-year-old Aleysha Rosario, 3-year-old Charles Gunn, 2-year-old Ly'Asia Gunn, and 1-year-old twins Brianna and Arianna Negron.

Youngstown schools spokeswoman Denise Dick says Aleysha was an articulate fourth-grader. Counselors are being made available at the elementary school she attended.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Fire officials say the damage was mostly on the home's first floor, leading them to believe the fire started there.

They say there's no sign that the fire was suspicious.

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2:25 p.m.

A neighbor says an anguished mother was naked and bleeding when she appeared at his door screaming for help to save her five children from a late-night fire swallowing their Ohio home.

Fire officials in Youngstown say the woman jumped from a second-floor window and was the only survivor of the Sunday blaze that killed the children, who ranged in age from 1 to 9.

Neighbor Aaron Baldwin says he awoke when the distraught woman banged on his door, yelling about her kids. Baldwin says by then the house across the street was engulfed in flames, with no way for neighbors to rush inside.

Baldwin, a father of five, describes the scene as "the worst thing you have to see."

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the blaze.

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1:14 p.m.

Stuffed animals are piling up beneath colorful balloons in a makeshift memorial outside the Ohio home where a late-night fire killed five young children, including 1-year-old twins.

Youngstown Fire Capt. Kurt Wright says the other children were ages 9, 3 and 2.

Wright says the mother jumped from a second-floor window and was hospitalized with injuries. He says no one else was in the home.

The Mahoning County coroner's office hadn't publicly identified the children by midday Monday as officials were working to notify relatives.

State and local investigators are trying to determine the cause of the Sunday night blaze. The damage was mostly on the home's first floor, leading them to believe the fire started there.

Officials say there was no immediate sign that the fire was suspicious.

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8:30 a.m.

Authorities say a house fire has killed five young children in Ohio.

Youngstown Fire Capt. Kurt Wright says the first floor of the house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived around 11:30 p.m. Sunday. Wright says three children were ages 9, 3 and 2 and the other two were 1-year-old twins.

Wright says firefighters managed to pull three of the children from the house, but they died at a nearby hospital.

The captain says the mother jumped from a second-floor window and is hospitalized with injuries. He says no one else was in the home.

Wright says two firefighters were injured. One was treated at the scene and the other was taken to a hospital for treatment and released.

The captain says the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Neighbor: Mom screamed for help amid fire that killed 5 kids

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – An anguished mother, naked and bleeding, banged on the door of the house across the street and screamed for help in a fruitless plea to save her five children as a late-night fire swallowed their Ohio home, a neighbor said Monday.

Fire officials in Youngstown said the woman jumped from a second-story window and was the only survivor of the Sunday blaze that killed the children. They ranged in age from 1 to 9, the youngest being twins.

Neighbor Aaron Baldwin said by the time he awoke from the woman banging on his door, her house was engulfed in flames and there was no way for neighbors to rush inside.

"It was horrible. It was the worst thing you have to see," said Baldwin, 28, who also has five young children. "I'm seeing myself in her predicament."

The Mahoning County Coroner's Office identified the children as 9-year-old Aleysha Rosario, 3-year-old Charles Gunn, 2-year-old Ly'Asia Gunn, and 1-year-old twins Brianna and Arianna Negron.

District spokeswoman Denise Dick said Aleysha was a fourth-grader at a Youngstown elementary school, where counselors were being made available as news spread about the children's deaths.

Their mother, whom fire investigators didn't publicly identify, was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. The hospital said she was in critical condition Monday evening.

Seventeen-year-old Edgar Daniel Negron said it was his aunt who was hospitalized and his cousins who died.

He said the fire occurred while his aunt was spending rare time with all of her children under one roof. She has been studying nursing, and her children sometimes stayed with relatives or their godparents, but they were all together Sunday night, Negron said.

State and local investigators are trying to determine what caused the blaze. They said nothing so far indicates the fire was suspicious.

It swept through the old, two-story wood home after neighbors were awakened by a loud boom. Most of the damage was on the first floor, leading investigators to believe the fire started there, said Capt. Kurt Wright of the Youngstown Fire Department.

Firefighters found flames throughout the first floor when they arrived and were able to pull out three of the children, but they died at a hospital, Wright said.

One firefighter was treated at a hospital and released, and another was treated at the scene.

The family had moved into the house earlier this year, according to neighbors and friends.

Virgen Bonilla said she was the children's babysitter. She visited the charred and boarded-up home Monday with her sister and a family friend to leave flowers at a makeshift memorial where stuffed animals were piled beneath balloons.

"These kids were always with me. They were my babies," Bonilla said, wiping away tears with her scarf as she shared memories of them — how Aleysha loved to dance, and Charles sang in Spanish, and Ly'Asia was quieter and liked to be off by herself.

Neighbor Jerry Fields also stopped outside the home to drop off stuffed animals.

"I needed to do something," said Fields, 68. "I didn't know what else to do."

Negron said he has organized a GoFundMe campaign to help with the funeral costs. City Councilwoman Anita Davis said the community plans to hold a dinner next week to raise funds for the family.

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Franko reported from Columbus. Associated Press reporters John Seewer in Toledo and Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

Firms to pay $9M to settle suit over 2012 California fire

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Officials say a construction company and a logging firm have collectively agreed to pay $9 million for damages resulting from a 2012 wildfire that burned more than 1,600 acres of national forest land in Northern California.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Sacramento says Monday that the agreement settles a lawsuit brought by the federal government against Kernen Construction and Bundy & Sons Logging.

Prosecutors say Bundy logging equipment hauled by Kernen became unsecured and dragged along a highway, causing sparks that ignited dry vegetation.

The resulting blaze charred a swath of brush and timber within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Neither company admits liability for the fire under the settlement.