Charred body found in California

Charred body found in California

12 July 2008

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USA — One person has been found dead inside a burned-out house as wildfires continue to sweep through California.

The victim is thought to have been a resident of Concow, Butte County, who did not follow a police evacuation order on Thursday as the blaze neared.

In the past three weeks, hundreds of fires, most started by lightning, have burnt 1,100 sq miles (2,850 sq km).

Some 20,000 people – many of them volunteers – have been battling fires which have destroyed 1,000 homes.

“Unfortunately not everyone chose to leave and you cannot force them to,” said police spokesman Sgt. Steven Pelton when asked why the victim had not obeyed a mandatory evacuation order.

“This appears to be one of those people.”

But he said a post-mortem examination would be conducted on the charred body to confirm the cause of death.

Stretched thin

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger summoned an additional 2,000 National Guard troops to assist the firefighting efforts across the state.

Help has also been drafted in from Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“We are stretched thin, and our firefighters are exhausted,” said the governor.

A thunderstorm on 21 June sparked some 800 wildfires across Northern California, which have been exacerbated by drought and particularly high temperatures.

Officials have described the combination of dry brush and trees, dry weather and windy conditions as a “perfect storm”.

Mr Schwarzenegger said the state’s fire season, formerly lasting from late summer through the autumn, was now year-round.

He said the state now needed more resources to battle the increase in wildfires.

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