California wildfires: Death toll jumps to 25 as Paradise residents return to apocalyptic scenes

The charred remains of 14 more victims have been found amidst the apocalyptic scenes of destruction around a Northern California town burned to the ground by a massive wildfire.

The bodies, which bring the death toll from the California wildfires to 25, were recovered in and around Paradise, California, a mountain community some 90 miles north of Sacramento left devastated by the "Camp Fire".

Scott Maclean, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman, said no details were available about the circumstances of the deaths and that the bodies’ badly burned condition would make identification difficult.

People surveyed the damage and struggled to cope with what they had lost. Entire neighbourhoods were levelled and the business district was destroyed by a blaze that threatened to explode again with the same fury that largely incinerated the foothill town.

The "Camp Fire" burned down more than 6,700 homes and businesses in Paradise, more structures than any other California wildfire on record.

California wildfires in pictures: Flames ravage Paradise and celebrity enclave of Malibu

Several of the victims discovered earlier this week were found in or near burned out cars, police have 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.

An additional 35 people had been reported missing and three firefighters had been injured.

As of Saturday afternoon the Camp Fire had blackened more than 100,000 acres of forest land. Crews had cut containment lines around about 20 percent of the blaze.

Jan MacGregor, 81, got back to his small two-bedroom home in Paradise with the help of his firefighter grandson. He found his home leveled – a large metal safe and some pipe work from his septic system the only recognizable traces. The safe was punctured with bullet holes from guns inside that went off in the scorching heat.

He has lived in Paradise for nearly 80 years, moving there in 1939 when he said the town had just 3,000 people and was nicknamed Poverty Ridge. The fire was not a complete surprise, he said.

"We knew Paradise was a prime target for forest fire over the years," he said. "We’ve had ’em come right up to the city limits – oh yeah – but nothing like this," he said.

MacGregor said he probably would not rebuild: "I have nothing here to go back to."

Celebrities flee ‘Woolsey Fire’

About 500 miles to the south, the Woolsey Fire burning in the foothills above Malibu doubled in size overnight, threatening thousands of homes after triggering mandatory evacuation orders for a quarter million people in the oceanside city as well as other communities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The fire, which has killed at least two people, destroyed "a lot of homes," with a full count still under way, and has now charred more than 70,000 acres, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.

"Our firefighters have been facing some extreme, tough fire conditions that they said that they’ve never seen in their lives," Mr Osby said at a news conference.

He said crews hoped to take advantage of a lull on Saturday in the fierce Santa Ana winds driving the flames, but that gusts could return on Sunday.

All 13,000 residents of Malibu, which is 30 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, were told to get out on Friday.

The two bodies were found severely burned inside a car on a long residential driveway in Malibu, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Chief John Benedict said.

Malibu is home to 13,000 wealthy residents, including some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

Those who own, or have owned, homes in Malibu include Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt, and Robbie Williams.

Charlie Sheen, the actor, launched an appeal to find his father Martin Sheen, who lives in Malibu and couldn’t be contacted.

The older Sheen later turned up at an evacuation spot on a beach.

Addressing his son via a TV camera Martin Sheen said: "We’re fine, we’re at Zuma Beach and we’re probably going to sleep in the car tonight."

He said it was the worst fire he had seen after living in Malibu for half a century.

Lady Gaga was also evacuated and photographs showed smoke swirling around her mansion.

Will Smith posted videos on the internet of the fire approaching his home and said he was evacuating his family.

He said: "Our house is there…and the fire is right there. I don’t like it so we are going to go."

The home of Caitlyn Jenner, America’s most famous transgender person, reportedly burned down. She said: "I don’t know if the house made it or not, it’s still up in the air."

Kim Kardashian, the reality television star, and her family were evacuated from nearby Calabasas.

She said: "I heard the flames have hit our property. I just pray the winds are in our favour. I’m just praying everyone is safe."

Cher, who has lived in Malibu since 1972, said the wildfire was coming close to her home, although she was not there.

She said: "Friends houses have burned. I can’t bear the thought of there being no Malibu."

The flames ripped through the Paramount Ranch in Malibu destroying a Western town which which has been used as a film set for a host of Hollywood cowboy films and TV shows since the 1920s.

Known as the "Woolsey fire," the blaze also jumped the Hollywood freeway in places and burned all the way through the mountains to the Pacific coast.

There were surreal scenes as residents of Malibu fled to beaches with their pets, included horses and llamas, which were tied to lifeguard huts like those featured in the TV series Baywatch, and enveloped by an orange haze.

The giant plume of smoke hovering over Malibu was visible from space.

Charlie Dresser, a Malibu resident, said: "This fire is like Armageddon. It’s out of control."

California has endured drought conditions for many years.

Trump under fire over tweet

Donald Trump blamed mismanagement for the destructive fires and threatened to withhold government funding in future.

He wrote on Twitter: "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.

"Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"

Katy Perry, the pop star, replied: "This is an absolutely heartless response. There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters."

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