The Latest: Zinke, Perdue visit wildfire-ravaged Paradise

PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is back in Northern California to tour wildfire damage and says fire recovery costs will likely be in the billions.

He said he’d rather spend that money on other public services, such as improving visitor experiences at Yosemite National Park or building more boat ramps on public lands.

Zinke said he’s been astonished by the devastation caused by the Camp Fire.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue joined Zinke in visiting the town of Paradise, which was incinerated.

He suggested donating timber from the Plumas National Forest nearby to re-build Paradise.


2:40 p.m.

A Northern California sheriff says he has no regrets publishing an inaccurate list of people reported missing after a massive wildfire.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Monday that he decided it was better to have as much information made public than “work to perfection” by releasing only the names of residents who were confirmed missing. Any message the department received with the name of someone believed to be missing was added to the list.

He said some on his staff were concerned that releasing the list would cause confusion and an unmanageable influx of calls from concerned loved ones.

Authorities in charge of relief efforts after a wildfire swept California wine country last year didn’t release the names of the missing for those reasons.

Honea says publishing the list led to significant help from the public in locating people.


2:40 p.m.

Two brothers from Chicago who wanted to help after a deadly blaze in Northern California drove more than 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers) to deliver hay, grain, dog food and batteries.

Kari Wheeler of Wheeler Ranch and Feed tells San Francisco Bay Area television station KTVU that brothers Arek and Danny Zachara arrived at her ranch Friday. It’s been a volunteer command post for North Valley Animal Disaster Group that’s helped rescue and care for animals affected by the blaze.

Wheeler says the brothers spent a few hours unloading their trailer at her ranch in Briggs. They then drove to nearby Magalia to donate the rest of their gear to a woman and her animals.

Wheeler says people from Idaho, Utah and Oregon also have made donations to help hundreds of affected animals.


1:30 p.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has distributed more than $20 million in assistance for people displaced by California’s deadliest wildfire.

FEMA spokesman Frank Mansell said Monday that $15.5 million has been spent on housing assistance, including vouchers for hotel rooms. He says the disaster response is in an early phase but many people will eventually get longer-term housing in trailers or apartments.

FEMA has also distributed $5 million to help with other needs including funeral expenses.

About 17,000 people have registered with the federal disaster agency, which will look at insurance coverage, assets and a variety of other factors to determine how much assistance they are eligible for.

The blaze that ignited Nov. 8 destroyed more than 13,000 homes and killed at least 85 people.

Officials said the blaze was fully contained Sunday.


11:45 a.m.

Survivors of a monstrous 2017 wildfire have erected a twinkling 12-foot Noble fir in another Northern California town also ruined by wildfire.

The Mercury News of San Jose reports the head of a Santa Rosa, California neighborhood association drove up to Paradise on Thanksgiving with a donated tree and decorations.

Ronnie Duvall says it was good to show the rest of the world that people can come together when disasters strike. The tree has white lights, purple and gold ornaments and a star.

The small town of Paradise was leveled in the Camp Fire that started Nov. 8 in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It killed at least 85 people.

Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood was decimated in one of several wildfires that sparked in wine country last year.

Categories: National News