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California Wildfire Now Most Destructive, Deadliest In State's History

Camp Fire
The Camp Fire in Northern California burns in this Nov. 8, 2018, satellite image from NASA

California is once again battling deadly wildfires that grew across the state over the weekend, fanned by high winds and fueled by dry conditions.

Even as the fires in Northern and Southern California grew in size, the number of people found dead in the wake of the fires has grown past 40. The fire in Northern California obliterated a town and has destroyed more than 6,700 structures while growing fires in Southern California have driven residents to evacuate as homes have burned.

The Camp Fire, which started in Northern California's Butte County, to the north of Sacramento, started Thursday morning. It burned through the town of Paradise, and has been responsible for 42 known deaths as of Monday evening, Cal Fire reports. Three firefighters have been injured by the blaze.

As of Monday night, the Camp Fire was at 117,000 acres and 30% contained. The fire threatens 15,500 structures and has destroyed 6,453 homes and 260 commercial buildings. It has damaged 36 homes and 22 commercial buildings and destroyed 389 minor structures. It is now the most destructive wildfire in California history and the deadliest (the 1933 Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles, previously the deadliest, claimed 29 lives). More than 200 people remain missing, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. An estimated 52,000 people have evacuated.

Strong winds and dry conditions were expected to continue through Monday morning. It could take the rest of November to contain the Camp Fire.

The fire remains under investigation, and state regulators have started investigating whether PG&E and Southern California Edison Co.'s malfunctioning equipment played a role in the Camp Fire and the largest of the Southern California fires, the Woolsey Fire, the Mercury News reports. Shares for both companies plunged Monday.

California Wildfire Now Most Destructive, Deadliest In State's History
Smoke is visible from the wildfires in Northern and Southern California in this Nov. 9 image from NASA

The two large fires in Southern California started in Ventura County, which was ravaged by the Thomas Fire a year ago. That fire burned nearly 281,900 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The Woolsey Fire, which is burning in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, started Thursday afternoon as a brush fire south of Simi Valley. It had spread to 93,662 acres by Monday night and was 30% contained. The Hill Fire, which started Thursday afternoon in Santa Rosa Valley, was at 4,531 acres and 80% contained by Monday.

The Woolsey Fire threatens 57,000 structures and has destroyed an estimated 435 structures and damaged 24. Those numbers are expected to increase once crews can get into affected areas to assess the damage. Only 15% of the damage inspection is complete. Moderate to strong Santa Ana winds are expected through Monday morning that could fan and spread the flames.

On Friday, two bodies were found in the Malibu area, the Ventura County Star reports. Three firefighters have been injured.

The Woolsey fire jumped Highway 101 Friday morning, causing the immediate evacuation of the city of Malibu, the Ventura County Star reports. Evacuating residents clogged the winding Pacific Coast Highway, which is a main artery into the city.

A mandatory evacuation was issued for Calabasas Sunday night, the Los Angeles Times reports. As of Sunday, 95,000 people have been evacuated in Ventura County and 105,000 in Los Angeles County, the Star reports.

By Monday, some of the evacuation orders had been lifted and Highway 101 had reopened to traffic, the Star reports.

The fire has burned through several landmarks, including the set of "M*A*S*H," Reagan Ranch and Paramount Ranch's Western Town, which was featured in "Westworld."

Eighty-three percent of all National Parks Service land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has been burned by the Woolsey Fire.

This story is developing and will be updated.