The number of casualties resulting from rampant wildfires across the West Coast has risen steadily over the summer, with the seventh death just reported this week.
Wildfires in California and other western states have raged out of control for the majority of the summer in the face of an ever-worsening drought that plagues the region. According to a report from NBC News, the death toll in the state of California has risen after a particularly hectic weekend wildfire left four dead in an 118 square mile radius.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said that they discovered the bodies around 6:30 pm on Tuesday in the town of Cobb, which was ravaged by the fire that started on September 12. The body is believed to belong to Robert Fletcher, 66, one of the two people reported missing to officials. Authorities still have yet to officially identify the body.
Robert Litchman, 61, of Middletown, CA is still missing, according to the Lake County Office of Emergency Services.
The last three wildfires in the state of California have left seven people dead. The state is weathering its fourth year of a catastrophic drought, which in addition to water shortages, sets the stage for extreme dryness that allows dead plant matter and brush to ignite with a simple spark.
The Valley Fire is the third most destructive in the state’s history, leaving the bodies of three residents, Bruce Beven Burns, Leonard Neft, and Barbara McWilliams buried in the rubble of structures that once stood tall in the region.
The fire spread throughout Lake, Napa, and Sonoma counties, all of which are north of San Francisco. The blaze has caused nearly 12,000 people to abandon their homes. The president declared the area a major disaster area on Tuesday, which allows federal funding to help firefighters in the region.
The Butte Fire also proved deadly, killing two people and spanning over 110 square miles. It broke out on September 9, and has been 84 percent contained as of this Wednesday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. This fire spread throughout Amador and Calaveras counties, which are roughly 50 miles southeast of the capital, Sacramento.
One person so far has been killed by the Tassajara Fire, spanning 1,000 acres in Monterey County. It was 81 percent contained on Wednesday after it broke out the previous Saturday. The fire has destroyed 12 homes.