France: President Macron vows to rebuild Notre-Dame

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS)

 

Macron vows to rebuild Notre-Dame after devastating fire

AFP
AFP

AFP

The steeple engulfed in flames collapses as the roof of the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral burns on April 15, 2019 in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, after a colossal fire tore through the building, sending the spire crashing to the ground and wiping out centuries of heritage.

Macron expressed relief that “the worst had been avoided” in a blaze that had at one point threatened the entire edifice, and left France in shock over the damage to a building described as the soul of the nation.

The inferno destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old UNESCO world heritage landmark, whose spectacular Gothic spire collapsed as orange flames and clouds of grey smoke billowed into the sky.

Around 400 firefighters battled into the night to control the flames, declaring in the early hours of Tuesday that the fire was under control, around nine hours after it broke out.

Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet said “we can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved” as well as the two towers.

Reuters

Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof.

‘France is Notre Dame’

“Notre-Dame survived all the wars, all the bombardments. We never thought it could burn. I feel incredibly sad and empty,” Stephane Seigneurie, a consultant who joined other shocked onlookers in a solemn rendition of “Ave Maria” as they watched the fire from a nearby bridge.

Gasps and cries of “Oh my god” erupted around an hour after the fire first broke out when the top portion of the church’s spire came crashing down.

“We have been dealt a knockout blow,” a stricken-looking Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit told reporters.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, but the cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work which the fire service said could be linked to the blaze.

French prosecutors said it was being currently being treated as accident.

Historians expressed incredulity at the collapse of a building that has been a symbol of France for almost a millennium.

“If Paris is the Eiffel Tower then France is Notre Dame. It’s the entire culture, entire history of France incarnated in this monument,” Bernard Lecomte, a writer and specialist in religious history told BFM TV.

Deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told the channel that workers were scrambling “to save all the artworks that can be saved.” Officials later said teams had managed to salvage an unknown quantity of the cultural treasures.

AFP

Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral as the fire continues to burn on April 16, 2019, in the French capital Paris.

‘Emotion of a nation’

Macron cancelled a planned policy speech and headed to the scene, where he vowed the cathedral would be reborn.

“We will rebuild Notre-Dame because it is what the French expect,” he said, describing Notre Dame as “the epicenter of our life” and the cathedral of “all the French,” whether religious or not.

France’s billionaire Pinault dynasty immediately pledged 100 million euros (US$113 million) for the effort.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Notre-Dame cathedral a “symbol of European culture” as the blaze raged.

The Vatican on Monday expressed its “incredulity” and “sadness” over the fire.

‘Water bombers not used’

One firefighter was seriously injured in the blaze, the fire brigade said.

US President Donald Trump in a tweet said it was “horrible” to watch the fire but caused controversy by offering advice on how to put it out.

“Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” he said.

But France’s civil security service, which oversees crisis management in the country, tweeted back at Trump that the use of water-bombing aircraft was not being considered.

“If used, (this) could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral,” it said.

‘Will never be the same’

The cathedral was located at the center of the French capital in the Middle Ages and its construction was completed in the mid-12th century after some 200 years of work.

During the French Revolution in the 18th century, the cathedral was vandalized in widespread anti-Catholic violence: Its spire was dismantled, its treasures plundered and its large statues at the grand entrance doors destroyed.

It would go on to feature as a central character in a Victor Hugo novel published in 1831, “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” and shortly afterwards a restoration project lasting two decades got under way, led by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

The building survived the devastation of two global conflicts in the 20th century and famously rang its bells on August 24, 1944, the day of the Liberation of Paris from German occupation at the end of the World War II.

“Paris is disfigured. The city will never be like it was before,” said Philippe, a communications worker in his mid-30s.

Jacky Lafortune, a 72-year-old artist and self-described atheist, stood forlornly on the banks of the River Seine staring at the cathedral.

Comparing the mood in the French capital to the aftermath of a terror attack he said: “But this stirs much deeper emotions because Notre-Dame is linked to the very foundations of our culture.”

French Titans’ Pledges to Notre-Dame Pass €600 Million

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

French Titans’ Pledges to Notre-Dame Pass €600 Million

The Arnault and Pinault families were among those who said they would devote resources and skills to the restoration of the cathedral, a symbol of French identity.

Battling the flames rising from the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.Credit Bertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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Battling the flames rising from the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.CreditCreditBertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the aftermath of the fire at Notre-Dame, one of the great symbols of France, the luxury industry — another symbol of the country, thanks to names such as Dior, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent — has pledged hundreds of millions of euros to the cathedral’s restoration.

The donations were followed on Tuesday by other pledges that soon surpassed 600 million euros, or about $675 million, and included beauty, energy, and finance companies.

On Monday, as Notre-Dame burned and flames lit the sky, the Pinault family — owners of Kering, the second-largest luxury group in France — was the first to publicly offer a significant contribution, pledging to donate €100 million to the rebuilding effort.

“The Notre-Dame tragedy strikes all French people, as well as all those with spiritual values,” said François-Henri Pinault, chairman of Artémis, the family holding company that controls Kering.

“Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible,” he added. “Today, my father and I have committed to donate €100 million from the Artémis fund to take part in the effort needed to fully rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris.”

The French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, the actress Salma Hayek, in Los Angeles last year.CreditChris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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The French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, the actress Salma Hayek, in Los Angeles last year.CreditChris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Shortly afterward, the Arnault family and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, led by Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, announced that they would give €200 million.

“The LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the relevant authorities all of its teams — including creative, architectural and financial specialists — to help with the long work of reconstruction and fund-raising, which is already in progress,” they said.

LVMH is the largest luxury group in the world. Its fashion holdings include Celine, Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton. The group also owns drinks brands including Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot, as well as the landmark Parisian stores Le Bon Marché and La Samaritaine. The group reported revenue of €46.8 billion in 2018.

Mr. Arnault was an early supporter of Emanuel Macron’s presidential bid, and Brigitte Macron, the French first lady, wears Louis Vuitton for most of her high-profile public events. Mr. Arnault also masterminded the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the contemporary art museum in the Bois de Boulogne designed by Frank Gehry that has helped reshape the landscape of Paris and that will ultimately become a gift to the city.

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the French luxury group LVMH, and his wife, Hélène Mercier, in Paris in March.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press
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Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the French luxury group LVMH, and his wife, Hélène Mercier, in Paris in March.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press

For its part, Kering owns luxury brands such as Balenciaga, Boucheron and Yves Saint Laurent. The Pinault family — also among the richest in France — owns the wine estate Château Latour. The group’s 2018 revenues were €13.67 billion. François Pinault, the patriarch of the family that controls Kering, is building a contemporary art museum in the former Bourse de Commerce in the center of Paris that will be designed by the architect Tadao Ando.

François-Henri Pinault, Mr. Pinault’s son, is married to the actress Salma Hayek. Kering has its headquarters in Paris, and Ms. Hayek posted a message of condolence and support on Instagram after the fire. “As many others I’m in deep shock and sadness to witness the beauty of Notre-Dame turn into smoke,” she wrote. “I love you Paris.”

The two fashion groups are deeply embedded and invested in the heritage of France as a global beacon of beauty and artistic creativity, a tradition that is also carved into the stones of Notre-Dame.

In recent years, the luxury industry across Europe has become actively involved in restoring historic monuments. The Italian leather goods group Tod’s is underwriting the restoration of the Colosseum in Rome for €25 million. Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, paid €2 million toward the restoration of the Trevi Fountain in the Italian capital (the company held a fashion show there when it was completed). Bulgari, a jewelry brand also under the LVMH umbrella, spent €1.5 million on the Spanish Steps in the city. And Salvatore Ferragamo, an Italian luxury goods company, has supported the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, held a fashion show in July 2016 at the Trevi Fountain in Rome after renovations the company had underwritten were completed.CreditVictor Boyko/Getty Images
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Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, held a fashion show in July 2016 at the Trevi Fountain in Rome after renovations the company had underwritten were completed.CreditVictor Boyko/Getty Images

The motives are both altruistic — supplying funds that local governments do not have in the interests of saving a joint inheritance — and self-interested — the companies clearly understand that the more closely they associate with masterpieces of history, the more they bask in their glow.

In addition, when it comes to Notre-Dame, donors will benefit from a hefty tax write-off. Individuals in France can get a 66 percent discount on charitable gifts, while companies can deduct 60 percent of their corporate sponsorship expenses — which would most likely include assistance to the cathedral — from their corporation tax, though the amount is capped at 0.5 percent of turnover.

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Paris, however, such distinctions may not matter. The gifts from the likes of the Arnaults and the Pinaults are a reflection of how personally, and how profoundly, the fire has reached into the identity of French citizens and their businesses.

Indeed, just after the announcement from LVMH, Patrick Pouyanné, the chief executive of the French energy company Total, said on Twitter that his firm would contribute an additional €100 million to the cause, and L’Oréal and the Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation, which is backed by the family that founded the cosmetics giant, pledged a total of €200 million. Offers of aid in the reconstruction effort also came from the bank Société Générale (€10 million) and the advertising firm JCDecaux (€20 million), while the tire maker Michelin also promised a large sum and the construction giant Vinci offered to provide workers and architects.

Their legacy will now be part of Notre-Dame’s future.

Liz Alderman contributed reporting.

Vanessa Friedman is The Times’s fashion director and chief fashion critic. She was previously the fashion editor of the Financial Times. @VVFriedman

‘Blaze looks terrible’, Omar Abdullah tweets as fire ravages Norte-Dame

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

‘Blaze looks terrible’, Omar Abdullah tweets as fire ravages Notre-Dame

The fire caused a spire to collapse and raised fears over the future of the nearly millenium old building and its precious artworks.

INDIA Updated: Apr 16, 2019 00:39 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Notre-Dame Cathedral,Paris,Fire
Firefighters douse flames and smoke billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday .(AFP)

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and the Congress party tweeted their sorrow over the fire that ravaged the Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on Monday.

Omar hoped that the fire could be put before it consumes the entire building.

Omar Abdullah

@OmarAbdullah

This blaze looks terrible. I hope they are able to put it out before it completely guts this historic building.

Breaking News Feed@pzf

BREAKING NEWS: Huge fire reported at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

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The Congress party in its tweet said it hoped there were no casualties.

Congress

@INCIndia

Heart-breaking news of the fire at the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. We hope there are no casualties & the Holy Cathedral can be salvaged.

cristina casacuberta@ccasacub

#notredame

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Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.

A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area. Parisians watched on, many of them lost for words.

Firefighters tried to contain the blaze with water hoses and cleared the area around Notre-Dame, which sits on an island in the River Seine and marks the very centre of Paris

(With inputs from Reuters)

First Published: Apr 16, 2019 00:39 IST

Black Church Fires: Louisiana Deputy Turns In 21 Year Old Son For Arrest

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Last Updated Apr 11, 2019 10:07 AM EDT

Police arrested the 21-year-old son of a sheriff’s deputy in connection to fires at three historically black churches in one Louisiana Parish in just 10 days. CBS News has learned it was the suspect’s father, Deputy Roy Matthews, who turned him in to authorities. The fires were devastating to the St. Landry Parish community.

Investigators arrested suspect Holden Matthews Wednesday evening. He was charged Thursday morning with three counts of simple arson of a religious building.The maximum penalty for each counts is 15 years in prison.

Matthews’ social media shows he had an interest in black metal music and is the lead singer for a band called Vodka Vultures. Records show Matthews lives in Saint Landry Parish, where the churches burned just a few miles apart. Police have not yet revealed a motive.

The churches were empty at the time of each fire and no one was hurt.

Earlier this week, the NAACP said the church burnings were “domestic terrorism,” targeting people because of their skin color and faith.

Attacks on black churches have long been used as a way to intimidate the black community, most notably during the civil rights era. Though police in Saint Landry Parish have heightened security at nearby churches, parishioners have not stopped their Sunday worship and all the pastors say they will rebuild.

The fires began on March 26 at St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre followed by Greater Union Baptist on April 2 and  Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on April 4.

“There’s still people that need to be helped, there’s still ministry that has to be done, so we can’t let this setback stop us from doing what God has initially called us to do,” said Pastor Kyle Sylvester of St. Mary’s Baptist Church.

The FBI and ATF have been assisting local police with the investigation.

Authorities say they will announce “significant updates” at a press conference Thursday morning with Louisiana’s governor.

China: People Mourn Martyrs Who Died Fighting Forest Fire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

People mourn for martyrs who died while fighting forest fire in Sichuan

Xinhua

Xinhua

A ceremony is held to receive the bone ashes of fireman Zhang Chengpeng, who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, at Jinan international airport in Jinan, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019. The ashes of fireman Zhang Chengpeng returned to his hometown of Zouping in Shandong Province on Friday.

Xinhua

People mourn for Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as their remains are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as their remains are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People attend a mourning ceremony for fireman Zhang Chengpeng, who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, in Dachen Village, Zouping, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as their remains are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

A ceremony is held to receive the bone ashes of fireman Zhang Chengpeng, who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, at Jinan international airport in Jinan, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Yang Ruilun, a martyr who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as his remains are taken back to his hometown in Majiang County, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Yang Ruilun, a martyr who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as his remains are taken back to his hometown in Majiang County, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Yang Ruilun, a martyr who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as his remains are taken back to his hometown in Majiang County, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, April 5, 2019.

ATF investigating 5th fire at Jehovah’s Witness centers in Washington this year

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

ATF investigating 5th fire at Jehovah’s Witness centers in Washington this year

PHOTO: The Kingdom Hall for Jehovahs Witnesses in Lacey, Wash., was completely destroyed by a fire on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Officials have ruled it an arson.KOMO
WATCH Suspected arsonist is targeting Jehovah’s Witnesses centers, police say

Federal authorities in Washington state are investigating the latest in a troubling series of arson cases at worship halls for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The latest fire broke out Friday at a Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Lacey, Washington, completely destroying the building. The Seattle branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ruled the fire an arson on Saturday. The fire broke out at about 3:30 a.m. and no one was in the building at the time, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said.

The fire was the fifth at a Kingdom Hall in Thurston County this year, according to the ATF. All of the cases remain unsolved.

PHOTO: The Kingdom Hall for Jehovahs Witnesses in Lacey, Wash., was completely destroyed by a fire on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Officials have ruled it an arson.KOMO
The Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Lacey, Wash., was completely destroyed by a fire on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Officials have ruled it an arson.more +

“Why is this specific religion being targeted? Why are these churches being targeted? What are they doing that is so wrong and oppressive?” Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza told Seattle ABC affiliate KOMO.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee responded to the latest arson on Friday, calling it an “abhorrent act.”

Governor Jay Inslee

@GovInslee

The freedom to worship is a right that should be protected for every person in our country. Our thoughts are with the members of our community affected by this abhorrent act.

KING 5 News

@KING5Seattle

The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Lacey was destroyed Friday morning by a fire that detectives call suspicious. https://kng5.tv/2RHVciB 

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The most recent fire before Friday’s was on Aug. 8 when someone attempted to burn down a Kingdom Hall in Yelm, Washington, about 15 miles southeast of Lacey. There was minimal damage, but police also found a dummy device designed to look like an explosive. Someone opened fire on that same hall in May, spraying it with 35 rounds and causing $10,000 in damage, according to KOMO.

On March 19, fires were started at Kingdom Halls in Olympia and Tumwater. Tumwater and Olympia are only 3 miles apart. Police released surveillance video at the time showing a man at the Tumwater center dressed in jeans and a navy blue hoodie pouring gasoline from a gallon jug and then lighting it on fire.

After suffering minor damage in March, the Olympia Kingdom Hall was destroyed by a second fire in July.

PHOTO: Someone set a small fire and left a fake bomb at a Jehovahs Witness hall in Yelm, Wash., on Aug. 8, 2018. The case was part of a series of fires and attacks at Kingdom Halls.KOMO
Someone set a small fire and left a fake bomb at a Jehovah’s Witness hall in Yelm, Wash., on Aug. 8, 2018. The case was part of a series of fires and attacks at Kingdom Halls.more +

No one has been injured in any of the incidents, all of which have occurred in the early morning hours when no one was inside the buildings.

The ATF announced in July it has connected the arson cases in Yelm, Olympia and Tumwater — as well as the shooting in Yelm. It’s not yet clear if Friday’s fire is also connected.

“ATF is doing everything in its utmost power to contribute to solving this crime with our partners in Thurston County,” ATF special agent-in-charge Jonathan Blais told KOMO.

The ATF is offering a combined $36,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of a suspect.

ABC News’ Matthew Fuhrman and Amanda Maile contributed to this report.

Massive fire in Mumbai’s Aarey forest near Infinity IT Park doused

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Massive fire in Mumbai’s Aarey forest near Infinity IT Park doused

According to Mumbai fire brigade, the fire, which was confined to trees and dry leaves, spread across an area of about 3-4 kilometers. Although, there were no reported casualties, a heavy damage to the forest is being feared.

INDIA Updated: Dec 04, 2018 08:49 IST

Steffy Thevar
Steffy Thevar
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Mumbai fire,fire at Aarey forest,sanjay gandhi national park
A major fire erupted in the Aarey forest near Goregaon suburb of north-west Mumbai on Monday evenin(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo)

A major fire erupted in the Aarey forest near Goregaon suburb of north-west Mumbai on Monday evening. The fire broke out behind Infinity IT Park at General AK Vaidya Marg, Dindoshi.

No casualties were reported till late evening.

The fire, which broke out at around 6:21 pm escalated to level three by 8:05 pm. According to Mumbai fire brigade, the fire, which was confined to trees and dry leaves, spread across an area of about 3-4 kilometers. Although, there were no reported casualties, a heavy damage to the forest is being feared.

Activist Zoru Bhathena said, “Although there might be no human casualties but there might be a huge green cover loss. Also, it is likely that there may be many animals and birds stuck in the forest fire. The cause also needs to get investigated as it may be an attempt to encroach the land by later claiming it to be a barren land.”

Ten fire engines, seven jumbo tankers and three quick response vehicles have been pressed into action to battle the fire.

Fire officials on ground are also using green branches to douse the fire. After the fire started to spread to the other side of the forest, the disaster control room intimated the nearby police stations to evacuate adivasis and cattles, if any, present in the area. The disaster control room officials, however, confirmed that no one was stuck in the fire.

First Published: Dec 03, 2018 21:45 IST

Camp Fire: 63 dead, 631 deemed missing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MERCURY NEWS)

 

Camp Fire: 63 dead, 631 deemed missing; second point of origin for inferno explored

Death count matches 1989 Loma Prieta quake; inferno jeopardizes future of fire-ravaged towns in shadow of Paradise

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A home destroyed in the Camp Fire is photographed in Magalia, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Magalia is one of the small towns struggling to pick up the pieces after the devastating wildland fire swept through. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

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MAGALIA — When the Camp Fire first tore through Butte County, John Pohmajevich stayed put in the small town of Magalia — a place he’s called home for several years now. He knew if he left, there would be no telling when he would be able to return.

On Thursday, the San Mateo native surveyed the devastating damage the fire’s left in its wake and recalled the last time he saw something like this: the Loma Prieta earthquake that shook the Bay Area in 1989.

“I thought (Loma Prieta) was bad, with the freeways crumbling,” Pohmajevich said. “But it was still not as bad as this.”

The Camp Fire has now killed 63 people to date, matching the number of fatalities in the Bay Area temblor, with 631 more still considered missing — 501 more than the figure given a day earlier. Sheriff Kory Honea said the figure spiked because authorities were constantly vetting both previous and incoming reports.

“They continued to work into the night and then ultimately they updated it,” Honea said. “I am fine with them updating that because I would rather get that information out than to wait too long to do that.”

Among the latest death toll were the remains of three people in Paradise, three in Magalia, and one in Concow. Honea said investigators have tentatively identified 53 fire victims.

Also Thursday, Cal Fire officials announced a possible second origin of the fire in the Concow area. The first point of origin was in Pulga. The California Highway Patrol also has removed 165 vehicles from the fire zone.

This weekend, President Donald Trump will view the devastation firsthand when he visits victims of the deadly Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. To date, the blaze has destroyed 9,700 homes and 11,862 structures overall.

When the fire began burning through Butte County last week — 141,000 acres and counting, with 40 percent containment — residents of of the 11,000-population Magalia and 700-resident Concow, two small towns in the shadows of Paradise, were left scrambling to escape. Now, as they grapple with grief and loss, some are contemplating whether to pick up the pieces and rebuild, or whether to move on.

“I think a lot of people aren’t going to want to come back. If this town recovers … if .. it’s going to take years and years and years,” Pohmajevich said. “This community was broke before the fire.”

He noted that towns like Magalia and Concow rely on cities like Paradise and Chico as an economic lifeline, and now one of them has virtually been taken off the map.

“The business was in Paradise,” Pohmajevich said.

Many people came to these two communities because they liked the peace and tranquility it offered. People “want to live in these areas because they like it,” said Congressman Doug LaMalfa, a Republican who represents Butte County and has been coordinating relief efforts with the federal government.

“The people are very resilient up there,” LaMalfa said, but acknowledged that “putting everything back together again is going to be a fairly long-term process.”

LaMalfa understands that some residents, by necessity or choice, won’t rebuild in places like Magalia and Concow.

But for residents who do return, LaMalfa wants the rebuilding process to result in better infrastructure — sewer rather than septic systems, underground PG&E lines. He also wants to see trees removed from along roadways and around towns and cities so emergency crews have more “defensible space” to rely on when fires erupt.

“I think many will want to try again,” LaMalfa said, especially if the infrastructure is better. “The support that’s poured in from all over the state and all over the country is pretty amazing. People feel pretty good that a lot of folks are on their side.”

Jesus “Zeus” Fernandez, one of the first Camp Fire fatalities to be publicly identified, lived in Concow and valued the sense of community life in one of the state’s more rugged areas offered.

But the landscape made the prospect of escaping a deadly inferno like the Camp Fire difficult.

“When the fire started that morning, the residents of the Concow area were hit first and seemingly hardest,” reads a GoFundMe fundraising page created in his honor. “Before Paradise, and with the least amount of warning. Many of his neighbors recall having only about 10 minutes to evacuate before driving through walls of flames and flying embers. Worst thing about Concow, is there’s only one way in and one way out. No fire warning system, virtually nonexistent cell service, and brutal terrain.”

Pohmajevich said the allure of the outer regions of Butte County lie in their serenity. He moved to the area after a career as a boat mechanic to support his elderly parents who retired to Magalia after spending their lives in the Bay Area.

“People move up here for the peace. You don’t have a lot of people. You don’t have traffic,” he said. “And there’s very good people up here.”

Michael Earhart, 75, another longtime Magalia resident who steadfastly refused to leave his home — in part to avoid being separated from his beloved parakeet Max —  isn’t going anywhere. He has kept on in part by visits from search-and-rescue and other emergency personnel dropping off water and food, though what he is currently fixated on is a propane refill.

“It’s a gorgeous place,” Earhart said.  “I don’t know where else I can go.”

Staff writer Jason Green contributed to this report.


Seeking missing people from the Camp Fire

Anyone seeking information about people missing in the wake of the Camp Fire, or want to report someone missing or accounted for, can view the latest list from the Butte County Sheriff’s Office at buttecounty.net/sheriffcoroner and call one of the following three hotlines: 530-538-6570, 530-538-7544, 530-538-7671.


 

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Our “Idiot-In -Chief” Tweets His Ignorance About California Wildfires-Twice

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

President Trump’s tweet on California wildfires angers firefighters, celebrities

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s tweet blaming “gross mismanagement” for the devastating California wildfires is sparking a backlash from top firefighters’ associations, politicians and celebrities.

In a series of tweets Saturday, Trump said the state’s deadly wildfires are a result of poor forest management and threatened to cut federal aid.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
He doubled down Sunday in another tweet, again blaming forest management.
“With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get smart!” Trump tweeted.

Official: Tweet is ‘ill-informed’

Trump’s first tweet drew the ire of the leaders of firefighters’ organizations, who accused the President of bringing politics into a devastating disaster.
The Camp Fire in Northern California has killed 23 people and burned 108,000 acres. The Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles has killed at least two and has scorched 83,275 acres. The Hill fire in Ventura County has ravaged 4,531 acres.
“His comments are reckless and insulting to the firefighters and people being affected,” said Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
The president of the California Professional Firefighters said the message is an attack on some of the people fighting the devastating fires.
“The President’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines,” Brian K. Rice said.
“In my view, this shameful attack on California is an attack on all our courageous men and women on the front lines.”
Rice also said Trump’s assertion that California’s forest management policies are to blame “is dangerously wrong.”
“Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography,” he said.

‘Fires do not respect politics’

State Sen. Henry Stern, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said fires aren’t about politics or jurisdictions.
“Fires do not respect politics, though, so I would beg the President to pursue a major disaster declaration and not make this a political incident,” Stern said. “We have many parties, many views out here, and it’s really not about politics, it is about people.”
A number of celebrities also responded to Trump’s tweet Saturday.
“This is an absolutely heartless response,” singer Katy Perry tweeted. “There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters.”
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio also weighed in, blaming the fires on climate change.
“The reason these wildfires have worsened is because of climate change and a historic drought,” he tweeted. “Helping victims and fire relief efforts in our state should not be a partisan issue.”
In between Trump’s tweets blaming forest management, he also paid tribute to those affected by the fire.
“More than 4,000 are fighting the Camp and Woolsey Fires in California that have burned over 170,000 acres,” Trump tweeted. “Our hearts are with those fighting the fires … The destruction is catastrophic. God Bless them all.”

In Brazil’s National Museum Fire, Officials Fear ‘Incalculable’ Loss Of Artifacts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

 

In Brazil’s National Museum Fire, Officials Fear ‘Incalculable’ Loss Of Artifacts

A fire burned Sunday at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro.

Buda Mendes/Getty Images

A massive fire that engulfed Brazil’s National Museum Sunday night has left staff and officials fearful that many of the nation’s most precious artifacts have been lost forever.

The museum housed 20 million items, including objects that tell the story of Brazil’s past: the first fossil discovered there, the oldest female skull found in the Americas and the nation’s largest meteorite.

First built in 1818 as a residence for Portugal’s royal family, the edifice also contained insects, mummies, paintings and dinosaur bones.

It had priceless items from ancient Egypt, Greece and Italy, and served as a prominent research institution.

Brazilian President Michel Temer called the damage an “incalculable” loss for the country. “Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge have been lost,” he said in a tweet Sunday. “It’s a sad day for all Brazilians.”

Firefighters worked for hours to fight the flames, using water from a nearby lake because two hydrants weren’t working, a fire official said.

CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

The fire broke out around 7:30 p.m., after the museum shut its doors to the public, according to a statement from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, which manages the museum.

It spread with astonishing speed, demolishing wood, documents and other flammable materials in its wake. Some flames towered over the museum, illuminating the night sky.

Firefighters were slow to fight the blaze because two hydrants near the museum weren’t working, a fire official told media. They had to use water from a nearby lake.

It is not immediately clear what caused the fire or what the extent of the damage is. The fire department said they were able to save some objects from the burning building.

No injuries were reported according to the statement.

The morning after the fire, people gathered outside the museum to mourn its losses.

CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

People gathered outside the grounds on Monday to stare at the charred structure and its remains, crying and criticizing.

Staff say the museum was chronically underfunded. Vice director Luiz Duarte told O Globo, “We have never had efficient and urgent support.”

He also said the museum had been guaranteed about $5 million from the Brazilian government’s development bank, with some money allocated for fire prevention.

The staff had just gone through fire training and arranged for flammable items, such as animals kept in bottles with alcohol and formaldehyde, to be removed from the building. “The most terrible irony,” Duarte reportedly said.

He also told the newspaper that the fire destroyed frescoes of Pompeii, language collections and the entire collection of the Empress Tereza Cristina, who was nicknamed “the Mother of the Brazilians.”

The fire comes before elections in October, and as the country’s economy is suffering.

“It’s an international catastrophe. It goes beyond ‘a sad day,'” Brent Glass, director emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, told NPR. “Everyone in the museum community has to get behind our colleagues in Brazil and see what we could do to help them.”

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