Death toll in Northern California wildfire rises to 23
PARADISE, Calif. — The air thick with smoke from a ferocious wildfire that was still burning homes Saturday, residents who stayed behind to try to save their property or who managed to get back to their neighborhoods in this Northern California town found cars incinerated and homes reduced to rubble.
People surveyed the damage and struggled to cope with what they had lost. Entire neighborhoods were leveled and the business district was destroyed by a blaze that threatened to explode again with the same fury that largely incinerated the foothill town.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Saturday 14 additional bodies were found, bringing the death toll to 23. The victims have not been identified. Two people were found dead in a wildfire in Southern California, bringing the total number of fatalities for the state to 25.
The fire became California’s third deadliest since record-keeping began, with the death toll surpassing that from a blaze last year that ravaged the city of Santa Rosa.
An additional search and recovery team on top of the four already on the ground was being brought in to search for remains, Honea said. An anthropology team from California State University, Chico was helping with that effort, he said.
2 dead, homes destroyed in Southern California wildfires
MALIBU, Calif. — Two people were found dead as a pair of wildfires stretched from inland canyons to the Pacific in Southern California on Saturday, leaving people sifting through the remains of both mansions and modest homes for anything they had left.
The two bodies were found severely burned inside a car on a long residential driveway in Malibu, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Chief John Benedict said. The home is on a winding stretch of Mulholland Highway with steep panoramic views, where on Saturday the roadway was littered with rocks, a few large boulders and fallen power lines, some of them still on fire. Most of the surrounding structures were leveled.
The deaths brings to 25 the number of people killed in the state’s wildfires in the past few days, with 23 found dead in a Northern California wildfire.
Firefighters have saved thousands of homes despite working in “extreme, tough fire conditions that they said they have never seen in their life,” Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.
Those vicious conditions on Friday night gave way to calm Saturday, with winds reduced to breezes. No new growth was reported on the larger of the two fires, which stands at 109 square miles (282 square kilometers), and firefighters now have the blaze 5 percent contained.
Recounts ordered in Florida Senate, governor races
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida secretary of state ordered recounts in the U.S. Senate and governor races on Saturday, an unprecedented review of two major contests in the state that took five weeks to decide the 2000 presidential election.
Secretary Ken Detzner issued the order after the unofficial results in both races fell within the margin that by law triggers a recount. His office was unaware of any other time either a race for governor or U.S. Senate in Florida required a recount, let alone both in the same election.
The recount sets up what could be several days of political tension in this deeply divided state. President Donald Trump tweeted without evidence that the elections were being stolen. Protesters gathered at an elections office in Broward County, which is quickly becoming a battleground in the recount. The protesters waved signs, used bullhorns and even harangued a food delivery person at one point, asking if there were ballots inside the food bags.
The unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points in the election for governor.
In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is 0.14 percentage points.
Gunman who killed 12 died from self-inflicted gunshot
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — An autopsy determined that the gunman who killed 12 people at a Southern California bar died from a self-inflicted gunshot, police said Saturday.
Ian David Long, a 28-year-old ex-Marine machine-gunner, fatally shot 11 people at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks and a police officer who responded just before midnight Wednesday. The officer exchanged gunfire with Long, who was found dead at the scene.
Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said an autopsy determined Long fatally shot himself.
Authorities have yet to determine a motive and are exploring all possibilities. Among them is whether Long believed a former girlfriend might have been at the bar, which was filled with about 150 people on its popular college night that attracts students from several nearby schools.
Sheriff’s Capt. Garo Kuredjian said investigators were still interviewing witnesses, have served a search warrant at Long’s home and searched the car Long drove to the bar.
Migrant caravan heads north after departing Mexico City
MEXICO CITY — Thousands of Central American migrants set up tents and strung tarps at a stadium in the central Mexican city of Queretaro, where they arrived Saturday afternoon after departing the country’s capital at dawn on their long trek to the U.S. border.
Their day began with dedicated Mexico City metro trains whisking them to the outskirts of the capital. At the end of the metro line, migrants began making their way to a main highway to resume walking and hitching rides with the tacit approval of Mexican officials.
Near a major toll plaza about 19 miles (30 kilometers) north of the city, Mexico state police and human rights officials helped load men, women and children onto eighteen-wheelers and asked passing buses and trucks if they would carry migrants.
Maria Yesenia Perez, a 41-year-old who left La Ceiba, Honduras nearly a month ago with her 8-year-old daughter, said she was prepared to wait to gain entry at the U.S. border.
“I decided to come (with the caravan) to help my family,” she said, before she and her daughter were hoisted onto the back of a semitrailer.
Trump visit to US cemetery in France canceled due to rain
PARIS — President Donald Trump canceled a planned visit Saturday to a cemetery for Americans killed in World War I, the White House citing bad weather that grounded his helicopter.
Trump had been scheduled to lay a wreath and observe a moment of silence at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, located adjacent to Belleau Wood and about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Paris.
Instead, Trump spent much of the day following a meeting and lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron at the U.S. ambassador’s residence, where he was staying during events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Attending in Trump’s place were the White House chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly; the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford; and several members of the White House staff. The Battle of Belleau Wood was a critical conflict in the war and a pivotal encounter in Marine Corps history.
The Secret Service determines when it’s safe to fly Marine One, the president’s helicopter. Paris was covered in clouds with drizzling rain through most of Saturday.
Erdogan: Saudi officials, others heard tapes of writer death
ANKARA, Turkey — Officials from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Germany, France and Britain have listened to audio recordings related to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey’s president said Saturday, in the first public acknowledgement of the existence of tapes of the slaying.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also told reporters that Saudi Arabia had to “act fairly” and disclose those responsible for the Oct. 2 killing of The Washington Post journalist to rid itself of “suspicion.”
“We gave them the tapes. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, the French, to the British, to all of them,” Erdogan said before departing for Paris to attend ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
“They (Saudi officials) also listened to the conversations and they know. There is no need to distort this. They know for certain who among the 15 is the killer or are the killers,” he said.
He was referring to an alleged 15-member assassination squad that Turkey believes was sent to kill Khashoggi at the consulate where he had arrived to obtain papers to marry his Turkish fiancee.
Tight race in Georgia shines light on voting restrictions
ATLANTA — He aggressively deleted inactive voters from registration rolls, enforced an “exact match” policy that could have prevented thousands of Georgians from registering to vote and launched an investigation that disrupted a major voter registration drive.
Now Republican Brian Kemp is declaring himself the victor in Georgia’s race for governor, a race so close that even marginal differences in voting and turnout could make the difference in determining whether the race goes to a runoff.
The Associated Press has not called the race between Kemp, who until this week was Georgia’s secretary of state, and Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former state lawmaker seeking to become the nation’s first black woman to be elected governor.
In a state dominated by Republicans, Abrams staked her campaign largely on getting new and infrequent voters to participate.
Meanwhile, Kemp and the state’s Republican legislature have imposed tighter voting and registration rules that can make it more difficult for just those voters to register and cast ballots. Most of those rules have come since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.
Big studies give mixed news on fish oil, vitamin D
CHICAGO — Taking fish oil or vitamin D? Big studies give long-awaited answers on who does and does not benefit from these popular nutrients.
Fish oil taken by healthy people, at a dose found in many supplements, showed no clear ability to lower heart or cancer risks. Same for vitamin D.
But higher amounts of a purified, prescription fish oil slashed heart problems and heart-related deaths among people with high triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, and other risks for heart disease. Doctors cheered the results and said they could suggest a new treatment option for hundreds of thousands of patients like these.
Up to 10 percent of U.S. adults take fish oil . Even more take vitamin D , despite no major studies to support the many health claims made for it.
“Those who peddle it promote it as good for everything,” but in this definitive test, vitamin D “showed a big nothing,” said Dr. James Stein, a heart specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He had no role in the studies or ties to the companies involved.
Homeowners - famous and not - await word of wildfire’s toll
LOS ANGELES — Rich or not, famous or not, there was little reprieve Saturday from the California wildfires sweeping through towns as different as the star-filled oceanside enclave of Malibu and the modest communities nearby and in the state’s north.
Lady Gaga, Martin Sheen and Kim Kardashian West were among the celebrities who joined thousands of others in evacuating from the affluent coastal city that is as well-known as its residents. Stars went online to share their worries, with some able to follow up with good news Saturday.
Alyssa Milano, who on Friday tweeted that her house was “in jeopardy” but she had gotten needed help to evacuate her horses and that her children were safe, was among the lucky ones.
“My house is still standing. I’m on my way to bring firefighters water and food,” she tweeted. She previously said her heart was with others facing “this awful disaster.”
Others were left to wait.
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