Body found in fire-hit California community

Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:02pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One person was found dead in a burned-out house in northern California on Friday after one of the wildfires ravaging the state swept through a woodland community, local police said.

The burned body was found as fire officials moved into the small community of Concow three days after fire burned at least 50 homes in the rural area.

"We are saddened by the loss of one of our community members but hope that providing this information will encourage people in evacuation areas to heed warnings," the Butte County Sheriff's office said in a statement confirming the discovery of a body.

In Concow and the nearby town of Paradise, about 86 miles

north of Sacramento, more than 10,000 people remained under evacuation orders on Friday as heavy smoke and thick fog hampered efforts to bring the blaze under control.

"The fire is like a sleeping giant. There is no estimate for its containment," said Yvette Streeter, Paradise town spokeswoman.

"It is a wind-driven fire and it is very dangerous for firefighters because of the steep terrain. In a lot of areas, the firefighters can't see the fire because of the heavy smoke and clouds," Streeter said.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called up an extra 2,000 National Guard troops to support firefighting efforts in the state where some 300 wildfires are still burning after lightning storms last month.

In Butte County, home to Concow and Paradise, fires have destroyed 50 homes and blackened 48,000 acres (19,000 hectares). A further 3,800 homes are threatened.   Continued...

<p>The California wildfires, with smoke drifting out to the Pacific Ocean (L), are seen in this NASA satellite image released July 9, 2008. REUTERS/NASA/Handout</p>