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California wildfire death toll rises to 31 with 228 missing

The death toll in one of the deadliest wildfires in California’s history has risen to 31, with more than 200 people still unaccounted for, officials have said.

Six more people were confirmed dead in the Camp Fire in the north of the state on Sunday, taking the toll there to 29, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told a news briefing Sunday evening.

Two people were found dead in Southern California. So the statewide death toll stood at 31.

Sheriff Honea said that 228 people remained unaccounted for, as wildfires continued to rage on both ends of the state, with gusty winds challenging firefighters.

Nancy Clements stands in front of her home that survived the Camp Fire on November 11, 2018 in Paradise, California. (Photo by AFP)

The Camp Fire now equals the deadliest wildfire in California history – the 1933 Griffith Park disaster in Los Angeles which also claimed 29 lives of civilians trying to fight the fire.

The Camp Fire that ravaged a swath of Northern California was the deadliest. It burned down more than 6,700 homes and businesses in Paradise — a mountain community some 90 miles (145 km) north of Sacramento — more structures than any other California wildfire on record.

According to police, a number of the bodies discovered earlier this week were found in or near burned out cars. The flames engulfed Paradise so fast that many drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles and run for their lives.

A burned pickup in Paradise, California, on November 10, 2018. (Photo by AP)

The Camp Fire has burned down more than 100,000 acres (40,500 hectares) at the edge of the Plumas National Forest.

Trump threatens to pull federal funding for California wildfires

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump threatened to pull federal funding for California wildfires over “gross mismanagement.”

In an angry tweet, Trump said he will pull federal funding for the state if nothing is done to “remedy” the situation.

Republican Senators slam Trump’s threat

Meanwhile, Republican Senators Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) pushed back on Sunday against Trump’s threat to revoke federal the funding for California.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to threaten funding,” said Gardner.

“That’s not going to happen,” he added. “Funding will be available. It always is available to our people wherever they are, whatever disaster they are facing.”

Senator Graham also slammed Trump’s remarks.

“We do have a forest management problem all over the country that we need to address but California will receive the money they need,” Graham said, adding that “going forward we need to look at some of the underlying causes of these fires.”

“And it’s just not California,” he said. “We need to look at better forest management in federal lands all over the country.”

“Now’s not the time to talk about cutting off funding,” he said. “We’re going to help our friends in California. With all due respect, they need help.”

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