Victims of the wildfires in California, U.S. have begun the painful process of returning back to their neighborhoods and picking up the pieces of their shattered homes.
Thousands of houses were left in ruins after days of deadly wildfires, which has, so far, claimed 21 lives.
“When I found out it was happening, I was pretty devastated. Our neighbor, he is a firefighter; he saved our cats and our dog. And we got all of our family pictures, so I’m really grateful for that. It’s just stuff at the end of the day. I’m just glad my family is okay, said Breanna Shaevitz, a local resident for 15 years.
Now Shaevitz’ parents have to live in a hotel, and they will be living there for around one year.
For most people whose houses were burned in the wildfires, the fires not only damaged their residence but also eliminated memories. It will be a long-term project to rebuild the damaged houses and rebuild the people’s lives.
In Santa Rosa, some houses survived, but some were utterly and completely destructed as though they were hit by a bomb.
“That area doesn’t look good at all. Walk by your neighbors and everything is gone,” said the local resident.
With fires still spreading, many are frustrated that authorities will not allow them to go back into their homes. Hundreds of people are still reported missing though communities are holding out hope that the main reason is that power is down in many areas.
The Jackson family is picking up the pieces of what was left of the home they lived in for three decades. So far they have only able to salvage a few metal boxes and items like cast-iron skillets.
Homeowner Regina Jackson is trying to stay positive – being thankful that all of her family survived.
“There are so many ways to replace with new memories. We have a wonderful family. That’s where I can get my strength. I mean at our age it’s hard to think about starting over. But we are pretty resilient and we will,” said Jackson. — Reuters
Man arrested in connection with starting Southern California wildfire
Forest Gordon Clark, suspect for Holy Fire (Screenshots via Reuters video)
A man was expected to be charged in connection with starting the Holy Fire, which has burned more than 4,100 acres in the Cleveland National Forest in Southern California, officials said on Wednesday (August 8).
Forrest Clark, 51, was arrested on Tuesday (August 7) and was held in jail on $1 million bail, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said on its website.
Clark was expected to be charged with aggravated arson, criminal threats and resisting an executive officer and could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted, Orange County District Attorney Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder said at a news conference.
“Arson is a terrible crime that destroys dreams, and even when people are not physically hurt it can destroy that baby blanket that still smells like your kid or that family portrait of your grandparents getting married,” Schroeder said.
Clark was scheduled to be arraigned in court on Thursday (August 9), Schroeder said. — Reuters
Massive wildfire becomes largest in California history
Aerials of so-called “Holy Fire” (Screenshot from Reuters video)
The Mendocino Complex fire became the largest wildfire in Californian history on Monday (August 6) as it raged at the southern tip of the Mendocino National Forest where crews battled to keep flames from descending into foothill communities.
The Mendocino Complex Fire, made up of two separate conflagrations that merged, grew to 283,800 acres (114,800 hectares) and was still growing, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
The fire surpassed the Thomas Fire, which burned 281,893 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in 2017, as prime weather conditions are expected to persist.
The Mendocino Complex, which has destroyed 75 homes and forced thousands to flee, is the largest of eight major wildfires burning out of control across California, prompting U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a “major disaster” in the state.
Elsewhere in California, evacuations were ordered for cabins in Cleveland National Forest canyons in Orange County on Monday afternoon after a blaze broke out and quickly spread to blacken some 700 acres (283 hectares). — Reuters
Sadness, anger at candlelight vigil outside parliament for Greek fire dead
Candles arranged to spell “23-7” marking the date of the deadly wildfire. Screenshot from Reuters video
Several hundred Greeks holding candles gathered silently outside parliament on Monday (July 30) evening to commemorate those who died in a deadly wildfire.
Standing around a heart shape arranged from the glowing lights, some mourners blamed the government’s handling of the disaster for the high death toll.
“I’m here to light a candle in memorial for those people, who in my opinion did not die due to the winds, they died because of a criminal (act)…Because of the state,” 54-year old Periklis Fountoulis said.
With candles spelling the date of the fire – July 23 – flickering at their feet, others said they were still crippled by sadness a week on from the disaster which killed at least 91.
The country’s deadliest fire happened a week ago in the coastal town of Mati, which is 30 km (17 miles) east of Athens, and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been attacked by opposition parties for the government’s handling of the disaster, which killed at least 91 people and left dozens injured. — Reuters