The Latest: Record 31 deaths in Calif. wildfires

SONOMA, Calif. (AP/NBC) – The Latest on wildfires in California (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

Northern California’s wildfires have now killed 31 people – making this the deadliest week of wildfires in state history.

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said Thursday night that two more people have been confirmed dead there. That raises the statewide death total from 29 to 31. The Oakland Hills fire of 1991 killed 25 people by itself, and the Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles in 1933 killed 29. While no single fire currently burning has killed as many as those, state fire Deputy Director Daniel Berlant says collectively this is the deadliest series of simultaneous fires in the state in recorded history.

The blazes, most of them in wine country, broke out almost all at once on Sunday night.

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4:10 p.m.

California’s deadly wildfires have claimed the home of ‘Peanuts’ creator Charles Schulz but his widow has escaped the flames. Schulz’s son, Monte Schulz, says a fire on Monday torched the Santa Rosa homes of his stepmother, 78-year-old Jean Schulz, and his brother, Craig Schulz.

She’s staying with other relatives. Schulz says he’s been told the home where his famous cartoonist father died and all the memorabilia in it are gone. However, most of his father’s original artwork is in the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, and so far that’s escaped the flames.

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Nearly 500 people are unaccounted for as crews continue to struggle against the 22 separate fires that are currently burning across Northern California’s wine country, but calming winds are offering some hope.

“So far in the recovery we have found bodies that were almost completely in tact and we have found bodies that were nothing more than ash and bones,” said Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano.

“The winds are still predicted to diminish throughout the day, We still have lowering humidities,” Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said Thursday.

Tens of thousands have been evacuated, and many of those returning to areas already scorched are finding their homes reduced to ashes.

Some 3,500 homes and buildings have burned, including at last count, 17 wineries and an untold number of organic farms popular in the state’s wine country, where the worst of the fires have been raging.

Read more: http://nbcnews.to/2hDXCht

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