Californian governor to visit wildfire-hit areas as death toll climbs to new high

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-13 12:45:36|Editor: Lu Hui
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SAN FRANCISCO, Oct.12 (Xinhua) -- California's Governor Jerry Brown offered his sympathy Thursday to the victims of wildfires that are ravaging the state, and he plans to visit the affected areas soon, as the death toll hit a new high of 29, local media reports said.

The reports quoted his spokesman Evan Westrup as saying that the governor intends to travel to the fire zones, but not immediately so that his visit doesn't take away from critical resources needed to combat the blaze.

"Our focus is on getting resources where they're needed most, not pulling them away for photo-ops with the governor," Westrup said.

Twenty-two blazes are ravaging primarily across eight counties in northern California, spawning one of the most devastating fire disasters in the state's history.

"We aren't in any way finished. Some places are beginning to be contained. But the fires are burning and the winds can come up. They aren't as calm as we would like them to be. The next couple days are very serious for California," Brown said.

Over 8,000 firefighters are combating the fires mainly in the Bay area of western California, but gusty winds and low humidity expected in the coming days will continue to challenge the fire fighters' efforts to contain the fires, and will increase the odds of new fires.

Earlier, a local TV station, quoting Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the blaze burning in Sonoma, one of the hardest-hit counties, is 10 percent contained.

But he warned that potential gusty winds forecast to hit the area later in the day could hamper firefighting efforts.

The statewide fires produced thick smoke worsening air quality in affected areas, posing a serious threat to local residents and the normal operation of schools and businesses.

San Francisco State University authorities said in a statement that all classes originally scheduled for Thursday evening have been canceled, and the university's main campus, its downtown campus and facilities in other places will be closed from Friday through Sunday because of the bad air quality caused by wildfires burning in North Bay.

Another event, the second annual Run with the Cops, a popular fundraiser aimed at supporting the local police department, has also been suspended. It was previously scheduled for Saturday in Redwood City, about 26 km south of downtown San Francisco.

The statewide fires have since late Sunday destroyed at least 3,500 homes and businesses and burned across lands of more than 190,000 acres, media reports said.