California Camp Fire: Rebuilding Devastated Communities 'Will Be Years in the Making'

It will take years to rebuild what the Camp Fire has destroyed across communities in Butte County, California, according to a local official.

The Camp Fire spans 138,000 acres and is still burning, according to Cal Fire. Just 35 percent of the wildfire is contained by the more than 5,400 personnel battling it. So far, the fire has claimed 56 lives, 8,756 homes and 260 commercial buildings.

Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said during a tour of hard-hit Californian town Paradise that the area will need a "total rebuild" because of the fire, BBC News reported.

"We are still responding to the incident and have just begun to plan for the recovery of our communities," Casey Hatcher, Butte County's economic and community development manager, told Newsweek.

"This process will be years in the making, as we have seen in communities in Sonoma County and others across California that have faced destruction from wildfires in recent years.

"I do not have estimates on the cost of the recovery process yet, but we are tremendously grateful to our state and federal partners for their commitment to assisting the residents of Butte County with rebuilding from the Camp Fire."

Daniel Llargués, a spokesman for FEMA, told Newsweek: "We will support the state of California and we will be in the state for as long as we are needed. Recovery is the hardest and longest phase of a disaster."

Llargués said President Donald Trump had granted two emergency declarations for the wildfires tearing across parts of California "which expedite federal assistance to state, tribal, local, non-profits and survivors impacted by the disaster."

He also told Newsweek "it is too early to determine" exactly how long the rebuilding process will take and how much it will cost, because the Camp Fire disaster is "still ongoing, rapidly changing and damage assessments have to be conducted and completed."

Cal Fire expects to have the Camp Fire totally contained by November 30.

"The fire remained active throughout the day in various areas around the perimeter," Cal Fire said in an update on Wednesday evening. "Firefighters have been working diligently to attack the fire through direct and indirect methods.

"As weather and visibility allow, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters have been working in coordination with ground crews to slow the fire's progress.

"Firefighters continue to strengthen and improve containment lines around the fire. Firefighters remain deployed throughout the interior areas of the fire's footprint to patrol, extinguish hot spots and mitigate hazards."

Camp Fire
Firefighters try to keep flames from burning home from spreading to a neighboring apartment complex as they battle the Camp Fire on November 9, 2018 in Paradise, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images