Three people have died in a massive lightning-sparked Northern California wildfire, authorities said on Wednesday, September 9. The wildfire, given the name 'The North Complex Fire', has also forced thousands of people to leave their homes and threatened thousands of homes and other structures.
While two of the victims were found at one location, the third was found in a separate location, said the sheriff of Butte County, north-east of San Francisco. With this, the total death toll from record-breaking California wildfires this year has reached at least 11.
Stoked by high winds, the fire has burned a 25-mile path through mountainous terrain and parched foothills. Fire officials said that hundreds of homes and other building are believed to have been destroyed or damaged in the devastating fires.
California is witnessing over two dozen wildfires, including three of the five largest ever. This year, over 2.3m acres have been burned in the fires.
Ben Draper, California Highway Patrol Officer, told the East Bay Times that one of the victims found in the Berry Creek area on Wednesday was someone who seemed to have been trying to flee the fire.
While Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory Honea confirmed two more deaths and that the two were found together, he did not reveal the location.
As high winds pushed the flames into Butte County, the North Complex fires grew by more than 97,000 acres in 24 hours, covering 252,163 acres in parts of Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties as of Wednesday evening, said Steve Kaufmann, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Fires are also burning in Washington and in neighbouring Oregon. As many as two have died in Oregon and one in Washington.
"This could be the greatest loss of human life and property due to wildfire in our state's history," Oregon Governor Kate Brown told a news conference.