Firefighters: One Dead in Butte County Wildfires

By: Don Thompson AP
By: Don Thompson AP

PARADISE, Calif. (AP) - At least one person is dead after a wildfire swept through an area near the Northern California town of Concow, fire officials said Friday.

Capt. Scott McLean of the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection confirmed the death, but did not provide any details. He
said it was not a firefighter.

A complex of blazes in Butte County already has destroyed 50 homes in Concow and forced some 10,000 residents of the nearby town
of Paradise to flee.

Firefighters battling the out-of-control wildfires in the Sierra Nevada foothills thought they had caught a break Friday when strong winds they feared could blow hot embers across fire lines toward thousands of homes did not immediately materialize. The northeast winds forecast for the morning were expected to be similar to those that caused the fire to flare up earlier this week.

It was not immediately clear if the fatality occurred during Friday's fire activity.

Officials have said this unprecedented fire season, plagued by drought and high temperatures, has seen the most fires burning at any one time in recorded California history. Most of the blazes began during a massive June 21 lightning storm that sparked 800 wildfires across Northern California.

This year had been remarkable not only for the scope of the fires, but also for the low number of fatalities and major injuries so far.

During a separate fire in Paradise last month, an elderly woman died after suffering a heart attack while voluntarily evacuating.

On July 2, a volunteer firefighter collapsed on the fire line in Mendocino County. Robert Roland, 63, died at the hospital a day later.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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