Valley Fire kills older, disabled woman

Sep 14, 2015 4:49 PM by News Staff

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. (AP) - The latest on wildfires raging in drought-stricken California (all times local):

1:13 p.m.

Authorities say an elderly, disabled woman was found dead in the ruins of her Northern California home after it was overwhelmed by a fast-moving wildfire.

The Lake County Sheriff's Department said Monday that deputies received a call Saturday night to check on the woman, but they were unable to approach her house because of the flames. The agency says the woman appeared unable to leave her home without assistance.

Her name hasn't been released pending notification of family members.

No other deaths have been reported, but others are missing, though officials don't yet know whether those unaccounted for are elsewhere.


12:30 p.m.

Shirley Leuzinger lived in her home in Middletown for 15 years before it was destroyed by fire.

So was the one across the street, where she and her husband previously lived for 10 years and raised their children.

Leuzinger said Monday she had seen TV images of her home burning and some neighbors had taken photos of the destruction, but it wasn't until she saw it with her own eyes that the grief set in.

She says she's thankful her family and three dogs are safe. She's also thankful she was able to grab a few pictures and some important papers.

But standing in the middle of the ash and rubble, she remembered all the other possessions she wished she had taken with her. She says she's doing her best to hold it together.


11:30 a.m.

California officials say a massive wildfire that's devastated rural communities north of California's Napa Valley has also damaged infrastructure.

At a news conference Monday, officials say the explosive blaze has damaged water distribution facilities and a massive complex of geothermal power plants known as the Geysers.

California Gov. Jerry Brown thanked firefighters for their courage as they "battle with nature" to stop that fire and another that have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced tens of thousands to evacuate. At the press conference, the governor said the fires are "scary stuff" exacerbated by climate change and a four-year drought.

Fire Chief Ken Pimlott says there have been 1,500 more fires than usual for this point in the year.

There is one confirmed death and others are missing, though officials don't yet know whether those unaccounted for are elsewhere.


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