California wildfire death toll climbs to at least nine

A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise Calif. on Thursday Nov. 8 2018

- With over a quarter-million people evacuated from their potentially destroyed homes and at least 11 lives lost to active California wildfires, President Trump is threatening to withhold federal payments to California, claiming its forest management is "so poor".

PARADISE, United States- Nine people were declared dead and tens of thousands evacuated Friday as fierce wildfires raged across the western USA state of California, with one rapidly spreading blaze threatening the famed resort of Malibu.

Late Friday Butte County Sheriff Korey Honea updated the Camp Fire death toll.

"Due to the burn injuries, identification could not be immediately made", the Butte County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

From miles around, acrid smoke could be seen in the sky around Paradise, the sun barely visible.

The home for 22 years of Bengston and his wife, Ramona, was the only house on his block that burned.

Locals fled the danger, but police told AFP some farmers returned to check on their cattle. Others will leave Saturday morning from Tumwater, officials said.

By Saturday, fire officials said the Hill fire, which is just over 4,500 acres, was 25% contained but the larger Woolsey fire was still surging.

Another 35 people were reported missing, McLean said.

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They estimate they will need three weeks to fully contain the blaze.

Reality star Kim Kardashian, who evacuated the area with her family earlier, said on Twitter parts of the home she shares with husband Kanye West in Calabasas was destroyed.

"This is just a lull", Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said, "so we're going to take advantage of that and try to get as much line perimeter in as we can with the expectation that we will get more winds tomorrow".

President Donald Trump, weighing in on the emergency during a trip to France, said early on Saturday that "gross mismanagement of forests" was to blame.

The Woolsey Fire broke out on Thursday in Ventura County near Los Angeles and quickly jumped the 101 Freeway, a major north-south artery, in several places.

At Pepperdine University in Malibu, where flames were visible Friday, students were told not to evacuate but to take shelter in buildings. "She said, 'I don't know if I can do this.' Her son said, 'Mom you have to, you have to drive through the flames'".

Draper Fire Chief Clint Smith said he's not entirely sure what the four firefighters and one engine will be doing in California, but he said they wouldn't let the summer's tragedy interfere with their task, even if it is weighing on them. "It'll be similar wind conditions to when the fire first started, and with a significant wind event like that, our crews are anxious about (the fire's) potential to spread".

Officials ordered evacuations southeast of Paradise on Saturday, as more than 3,000 firefighters battled the flames and forecasters called for heavy winds.

"We barely stayed ahead of it", Vaughan said. The flames descended on the mountain community so fast that many people were forced to abandon their vehicles and run for their lives down the sole road through the mountain town. Three bodies were found outside homes and one was found inside a home.

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