Deadliest US Blaze of 2020: 'No Fighting This Fire'

At least 9 are dead as area burned in California surpasses size of Connecticut
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 12, 2020 5:30 AM CDT
Deadliest US Blaze of 2020: 'No Fighting This Fire'
A firefighter with Vandenberg Air Force Base prepares to throw an incendiary device to help control the Dolan Fire at Limekiln State Park in Big Sur, Calif., on Friday.   (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

Berry Creek, Calif., has been largely destroyed in what has become the deadliest fire of 2020, a year that has already shattered California records for the most area burned—more land than the state of Connecticut—and recorded the largest fire of all time in the state. Five of the top 10 biggest blazes in state history are still burning, and fire season often gets worse in the fall, per the AP. At least nine people were killed and 19 were unaccounted for. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced that the victims included Josiah Williams, 16, of Berry Creek, who apparently died while trying to flee the flames in a vehicle. "He was alone, terrified and ran for his life," his mother, Jessica Williams, told CBS13 Sacramento. "My son was a good, smart, caring young boy that died alone, and it kills me thinking about what he was going through."

Berry Creek was among the hardest-hit communities. A bar, laundromat, and two stores are gone. All that remain of a gas station are a pair of pumps and a sign listing prices. The school and volunteer fire station have been destroyed. "There was no fighting this fire," resident John Sykes said. California Gov. Gavin Newsom toured the fire-ravaged region Friday and strongly asserted that climate change was evident and pledged to redouble efforts to "decarbonize" the economy. "The debate is over around climate change," he said. "Just come to the state of California, observe it with your own eyes." Neighboring Oregon and Washington also have been besieged, and air pollution is a major problem across the West. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Friday "dozens of people" are missing from the large wildfires that have burned across the state.

(More California wildfires stories.)

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