'Peanuts' creator home razed in California fires
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Sonoma, California: California's deadly wildfires have now claimed 31 lives with hundreds still missing and also destroyed the home of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz taking all the famous cartoonist's memorabilia with it.
Schulz's son, Monte Schulz, said the Santa Rosa home of his 78-year-old widow Jean Schultz, and his brother Craig Schulz was destroyed on Monday but no one was injured.
The latest casualty figures mark the greatest loss life from a single California wildfire event in 84 years with 3500 homes and businesses incinerated and 77,000 hectares scorched.
The official cause of the disaster is under investigation, but officials say power lines toppled by gale-force winds on Sunday night may have sparked the conflagration.
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A resurgence of extreme wind conditions that was forecast for Wednesday night and early Thursday failed to materialise, giving fire crews a chance to start carving containment lines around the perimeter of some of the blazes.
But fierce winds are expected to return across much of the state as early as Friday night, and a force of 8,000 firefighters in Northern California are racing to reinforce and extend buffer lines before then, officials said.Advertisement
Despite progress, fire crews remained "a long way from being out of the woods," Ken Pimlot, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), told reporters in Sacramento.
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Mark Ghilarducci, state director of emergency services, added that: "We are not even close to being out of this emergency."
Authorities have warned that the death toll from the spate of more than 20 fires raging across eight counties for a fourth day could climb higher, with more than 400 people in Sonoma County alone still listed as missing.
One of greatest immediate threats to population centres continued to b e in the Napa Valley town of Calistoga, whose 5,000-plus residents were ordered from their homes on Wednesday night as winds picked up and fire crept closer.
Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning said anyone refusing to heed the mandatory evacuation would be left to fend for themselves if fire approached, warning on Thursday: "You are on your own."
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