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Eleven die in California fires after more bodies found

Two more people have been killed by fires in California, bringing the total number of victims to 11.

Chief John Benedict from Los Angeles County Sheriff Department said the deaths were a result of fires in the state’s south, one of which doubled in size on Saturday to 70,000 acres.

The sheriff’s department also said two people had been arrested on suspicion of looting properties left behind by those fleeing from the fires.

A woman reacts as the Woolsey Fire burns in Malibu, California, U.S. November 9, 2018
The Woolsey fire has devastated Malibu, home to many Hollywood stars
A local resident speaks with firefighters stationed along Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) to battle the Woolsey Fire on November 9, 2018 in Malibu, California
Firefighters are stationed along the Pacific Coast Highway to battle the Woolsey fire

About 250,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes in the face of the Hill and Woolsey fires in southern California, including the city of Malibu, home to a number of Hollywood celebrities.

One of those affected was former West Wing actor Martin Sheen, who told Fox affiliate KTTV that the fire was the worst he had ever seen.

He said his house was likely to have been destroyed but that he and his wife Janet were safe and planned to sleep in their car on the beach.

Martin Sheen speaks to Fox 11, telling them he and his family are fine during the fires in California. Pic: Fox News 11
Martin Sheen speaks to Fox 11, telling them he and his family are fine. Pic: Fox News 11

Also affected is the city of Thousand Oaks, which is still recovering from the recent mass shooting.

By Saturday, fire officials said the Hill fire, which is just over 4,500 acres, was 25% contained but the larger Woolsey fire was still surging.

Los Angeles County fire chief Daryl Osby said thousands of firefighters were working in the toughest, most extreme conditions they had ever seen.

Some 150 homes had been burned and the number was expected to rise, he said.

The Woolsey fire destroyed dozens of structures, forced thousands of evacuations
The Woolsey fire has destroyed dozens of structures and forced thousands of evacuations

The other nine deaths were in Paradise, a town of 27,000 in northern California, which was destroyed by fire.

Four of the dead are believed to have perished in their cars, trying to escape flames that moved so fast they left firefighters powerless.

When asked about the cause on Saturday, police at a news conference said “it’s under investigation right now”.

Abandoned burned-out cars and school bus sit on the side of a road in Paradise, California
Abandoned burned-out cars and school bus sit on the side of a road in Paradise

ABC senior meteorologist Rob Marciano told Sky News that a “lull in the winds” was expected on Saturday but would not last long.

“The winds will kick up again tomorrow and again on Monday…There is no rain in the forecast really until further notice.”

Wildfire in Paradise, California
Paradise destroyed: The nine other deaths were in this Californian town

Sky News US correspondent Greg Milam, who is in Los Angeles, said: “What’s driving this fire is the Santa Ana winds.

“Usually the winds here come off the water – they are wet and cool. But when they turn, they come from the desert, down through the canyons, and they are dry and unpredictable.

“They come every year and they call them the ‘devil winds’. They are a terrifying and deadly force of nature.”

President Donald Trump has provided emergency funds for Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties – but he has also blamed forestry officials and threatened to stop funding forest management.

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