Wildfires that have raged through parts of California have reduced homes and businesses to charred remains, leaving lives in ruins.

Cars caught in the flames have been reduced to scorched metal skeletons, while homes were left as smouldering piles of debris, with an occasional brick wall or chimney remaining.

Image: El Matador beach, off the Pacific Coast Highway, was one of the areas affected
The entrance to the car park for El Matador beach, off the Pacific Coast Highway, about 5 miles from Malibu
Image: El Matador is part of Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach

So far, 31 people have died in the blazes, which are centred on an area popular with celebrities in hills to the northwest of Los Angeles and also on a small town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

The so-called "Camp Fire" north of the state capital Sacramento, which has killed 29, has destroyed 6,400 buildings and effectively wiped the community of Paradise off the map.

The ruins of one of the beachside mansions at Point Dume State Beach after the fire
Image: Beachside mansions at Point Dume State Beach are among those destroyed
The view before the fire at Point Dume State Beach
Image: The promontory overlooks Zuma Beach and has often been used as a filming location

A further 200 people remain unaccounted for in the Paradise area.

It is not the first time Paradise, a spread out rural town where virtually all of its homesteads are swathed in pine trees, has been devastated by forest fires.

The Jack in the Box fast food restaurant goes up in flames in Paradise
Image: Paradise's Jack in the Box fast food restaurant went up in flames
Jack in the Box before
Image: Jack in the Box has fast food restaurants across 21 states

In 2008, more than 10,000 people had to be evacuated as thousands of hectares of land were ravaged by fire.

But experts say it is unexpected for such dangerous wildfires to have broken out in that part of California so late in the year, as November is normally among the wettest months.

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The former US President Ronald Reagans 'Rancho del Cielo'  made his home for over twenty years
Image: Ronald Reagan's former ranch in the hills above Malibu has been completely destroyed
Malibu Creek State Park had a span of 8,215-acres  before the fire hit last week
Image: The former president bought the 305-acre site to breed horses in the 1950s

The fire named the Woolsey Fire in southern California has hit the beachside community of Malibu and the hills to its north where some stars have based themselves because of their views and the proximity to Hollywood.

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Paradise Inn was gutted by the blaze
Image: The Paradise Inn in the town of Paradise was gutted by the fire
The Paradise Inn hotel  Camp Fire
Image: The town of around 30,000 has lost 6,500 buildings

Several of the houses destroyed are likely to have been worth millions of dollars.

Wildfires are common in the mountains around Los Angeles, with five of the 20 biggest in the state's history having been in LA, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in the last 10 years.

The fire raged through the town of Paradise on Thursday
Image: The antique store Treasure from Paradise was another hit by the Camp Fire blaze
Treasures from Paradise
Image: The owners said on social media that they are unlikely to open again

And the state's previous most deadly fire, the Griffith Park blaze, occurred in Los Angeles County in 1933.

The south of the state has hot and dry conditions from spring into late autumn and any outbreaks of fire can be fanned or made worse by strong winds that blow from the deserts inland.

After the fire has swept through Bel Canyon at the Ventura County border
Image: The fire stripped the hillsides as it swept through Bel Canyon near the Ventura County border
The scene on the border of Ventura County at Bel Canyon
Image: Even in the dry season, the canyon sides were previously covered in foliage

Officials say the behaviour of the fires they have to deal with has been changing over the years.

Droughts and record summer temperatures have been leaving vegetation extremely crisp and dry and the changing nature of the resulting blazes has affected fire brigades's ability to redirect firefighting resources around the state.

Feather River Hospital, near Paradise, was in the path of the fire
Image: Feather River Hospital, near Paradise, was in the path of the fire
The entrance to the Feather River Hospital in Paradise
Image: The entrance to the Feather River Hospital in Paradise

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said: "Typically this time of year when we get fires in Southern California we can rely upon our mutual aid partners in Northern California to come assist us because this time of year they've already had significant rainfall or even snow.

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"It's evident from that situation statewide that we're in climate change and it's going to be here for the foreseeable future," he said.

Original Article


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