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Fire Alarm

TOWN IN RUINS Smoke from the deadly Camp Fire blankets the remains of Paradise, California, on November 15. JOSH EDELSON—AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Massive wildfires swept through parts of California in November, destroying tens of thousands of homes and leaving many people dead or missing.

On November 8, fire broke out in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, in Northern California. Over a period of two weeks, the Camp Fire burned through 240 square miles. Nearly 14,000 homes were destroyed. The town of Paradise was reduced to ash. People fleeing on the main road saw other cars in flames.

On November 25, the state’s fire agency, Cal Fire, announced that firefighters had fully contained the blaze. Three days of rain helped to finally put it out. But at least 88 people died, and more than 200 are still unaccounted unaccounted KARL TAPALES—MOMENT/GETTY IMAGES not explained or included in a tally (adjective) Even when the police found Monica's stolen purse, the money from her wallet remained unaccounted for. for. This makes the Camp Fire the deadliest wildfire in California history.

At the same time, a separate blaze devoured devour DIGITALHALLWAY/E+—GETTY IMAGES to destroy completely (verb) The abandoned house was devoured by flames. communities west of Los Angeles, in Southern California. The Woolsey Fire claimed 1,600 homes. A quarter of a million people evacuated, and at least three died.

California wildfires have become more frequent and more deadly over the past 20 years. Scientists say climate change is partly to blame. The U.S. National Climate Assessment, issued on November 23, found that severe hot weather and wildfires would become more common if immediate action is not taken to slow climate change.