California Fire Is Out, Finally, After Black Friday Rains

The deadliest wildfire in California is out. Finally. The Camp Fire that began Nov. 8 lasted 15 days, claimed 84 lives and caused complete destruction. A heavy rain system Friday morning has extunguised the massive inferno.

"The fire is out," Stephen Horner, a Camp Fire public information officer, said in the Redding Record.

Though the fire is out, many first responders will stay on the scene as hazardous conditions will remain, including dead and damaged trees. As rain continues to fall at nearly a half-inch-per-hour clip Friday afternoon, there's also potential danger for flash floods and mudslides, Horner said.

The National Weather Service forecast the heaviest rain to fall in the fire area through Friday afternoon, including the Camp Fire area, the Carr Fire, Delta Fire and Hirz Fire areas in Shasta County. The service also noted that sunny skies will prevail in Paradise, Calif., through the weekend, and another rain event could ratchet back up on Tuesday and continue through the week.

California fire officials said the rain helped put out fires in hot spots and will most likely aid in the prevention of flare-ups. Still, some travel dangers exist in the area.

"Those traveling or in the areas along Interstate 5 and Highway 299 in the western portion of Shasta County, and along portions of Highway 70 and the Skyway in Butte County should be on the alert for possible road problems due to flooding, rock and debris flows," NWS said.

Repairs in the area and rehab stations will be scouted in the next few days, fire officials said.

"With a little bit more effort, mop up should be completed by Monday," Horner said.

The Camp Fire that lasted half a month has already claimed 84 lives, but more than 600 people are still missing (as of Friday afternoon) as crews continue to search through charred remains and update a list of missing people that has dwindled from more than 1,000 just two days ago.

Earlier this week, the Walmart in Chico asked residents in their makeshift shanty town on the giant retailer's property to leave, citing a health risk. And now that the fire is out and residents want to piece their lives back together, health officials warn against returning to what's left of their homes.

Dr. Andy Miller, the Butte County Health Officer, advised against evacuees returning to live in destroyed property until they are "declared clear of hazardous waste and structural ash and debris by Butte County Environmental Health," according to a release.

"There is evidence from recent fires in California that homes and property destroyed by fire contain high and concerning levels of heavy metals, lead, mercury, dioxin, arsenic, and other carcinogens," the release said.

The fire encompassed more than 153,000 acres and destroyed 13,631 homes, fire officials said. The Paradise Unified School District lost eight of its nine schools, with at least 3,800 of more than 4,200 Paradise Unified students losing their homes in the Camp Fire.

California Fire Is Out, Finally, After Black Friday Rains | U.S.