Hundreds of millions in damage estimated in Calif. fire
Middletown, Calif. — California officials said Wednesday a wildfire burning north of South Francisco has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, but a final figure is still being determined.
Another body was found in the rubble in Lake County, bringing the death toll to six from that blaze and another in Northern California — two of the state’s more destructive wildfires in recent memory. Also Wednesday, authorities said a man’s suicide was involved in the start of a separate fire that destroyed 12 homes south of San Francisco.
Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said the Lake County fire destroyed 1,900 structures, including 1,238 homes, and left 3,000 people homeless. It has charred 118 square miles.
Lake County sheriff’s officials said they discovered the remains in the hard-hit Cobb area and believe they belong to Robert Taylor Fletcher, 66, who was last seen Sept. 16. His home was destroyed.
The coroner has not confirmed the identity.
Officials said Robert Litchman, 61, from the Seigler Canyon area, was still missing.
Three other people have been found dead in the rubble of the Lake County blaze.
Two bodies were found inside homes destroyed in another wildfire about 170 miles southeast, in the Sierra Nevada foothills. That fire has charred 110 square miles.
The two fires continue burning, but cooler weather and some rain have helped firefighters gain ground, and both are more than 80 percent contained.
Meanwhile, authorities in Monterey County said a man’s suicide was involved in the start of a wildfire that destroyed 12 homes and eight small buildings and prompted evacuations near the small town of Jamesburg, 140 miles south of San Francisco.
The Monterey County Sheriff’s Department said firefighters found the body near the fire’s ignition point.
The sheriff’s department declined to release the cause of death or other details on how the fire started Saturday, saying an investigation continues. The man’s identity wasn’t disclosed.
That fire has burned a little more than a square mile since it started about 30 miles east of the coastal city of Monterey. Firefighters say it’s 81 percent contained.