The Latest: Authorities: 2 people die in S. California fire

 foxnews.com  11/10/2018 5:52:25 PM 

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

10:50 a.m.

Los Angeles County sheriff's Chief John Benedict says two people have been found dead in the fire zone of a Southern California blaze.

The deaths are the first from a pair of wildfires burning north and west of downtown Los Angeles that have torn through 109 square miles and destroyed more than 150 homes since Thursday.

Benedict gave no details on the deaths. He said Saturday sheriff's detectives are investigating.

Wildfires burning across California have now killed 11 people. Nine have been found dead in fires in Northern California.

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9:15 a.m.

A wildfire in Southern California has more than doubled in size, and firefighters are searching through burned-out neighborhoods looking for new destruction from a blaze that has already destroyed 150 homes.

Officials took advantage of calm conditions Saturday morning to assess damage and get a new map of a blaze that has now burned 109 square miles (282 square kilometers) in the hills and canyons north and west of downtown Los Angeles.

Searches through cities including Thousand Oaks and Malibu are certain to find more damage, and the number of burned homes is expected to surge.

A smoky haze still is hanging in blue skies in the area Saturday, with the vicious winds that drove the flames in their first two days gone and expected to stay away until Sunday.

Firefighters are scrambling to take advantage of the better conditions to start reining in the blaze.

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8:45 a.m.

Officials say better weather is helping them gain ground against a deadly blaze that leveled a town in Northern California but they're bracing for high winds that could threaten another community.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says strong winds are expected to return Saturday night and drive the blaze south across Lake Oroville, threatening Oroville, a town of 19,000 people.

National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Hoon says the area will see sustained winds of up to 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers per hour) with gusts up to 50 mph (80 kph).

The blaze that started Thursday outside the hilly town of Paradise has grown to 156 square miles (404 square kilometers). Officials say the town has been completely destroyed.

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7:45 a.m.

Officials say a deadly blaze that leveled a Northern California town has spread overnight but crews also got some control of the flames.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Saturday that the wildfire grew to 156 square miles (404 square kilometers) but it's 20 percent contained.

Cal Fire says the blaze that started Thursday in the hills near the town of Paradise destroyed 6,453 homes and 260 businesses. An additional 15,000 structures are threatened. At least nine people have died.

Officials say more than 3,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which is California's most destructive wildfire since record-keeping began.

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1:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is threatening to withhold federal payments to California, claiming its forest management is "so poor."

Trump says Saturday via Twitter that "there is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly fires in California." Trump says "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!"

The comments were Trump's first about massive wildfires, including a blaze that incinerated most of the Northern California town of Paradise and killed at least nine people.

Wildfires also raged in Southern California, including the town of Thousand Oaks, where a gunman days earlier killed a dozen people at a local bar.

Trump earlier issued an emergency declaration providing federal funds to help firefighters.

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