Pamela Garibaldi looks over burned remains of her parents home destroyed by wildfire in Napa, California, U.S., October 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A woman looks over burnt remains of her parents' home destroyed by wildfire in Napa, California on October 13, 2017. Jim Urquhart / Reuters

California wildfires rage as record death toll climbs to 38



Fire officials in Northern California reported further headway on Saturday against the most lethal outbreak of wildfires in state history, as the death toll rose to 38 and teams with cadaver dogs combed charred ruins for human remains.

The wind-driven blazes, which erupted on Sunday night in the heart of California's renowned wine country, north of San Francisco, have destroyed an estimated 5,700 homes and businesses and forced the evacuation of at least 100,000 people.

With more than 200 people still missing on Friday in Sonoma County alone, and rubble from thousands of incinerated dwellings yet to be searched, authorities have said the number fatalities from the so-called North Bay fires would likely climb higher.

Even as firefighters gained more ground during a second day of better weather, they braced for a return of higher temperatures, lower humidity and strong, gusty winds that could increase the threat to communities still in harm's way.

Ground crews raced to clear drought-parched vegetation along the southern flanks of fires, removing highly combustible fuels adjacent to populated areas before extreme heat and winds were forecast to revive over the weekend.

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Read more: California wildfires: Small sparks may have led to big fires

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"We've challenged the troops to get out there and secure mainly the south parts of these fires in preparation for those strong north winds,” Bret Gouvea, deputy chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), told a news conference.

As of Friday afternoon, 17 major wildfires — some encompassing several smaller blazes merged together — had consumed nearly 222,000 acres of dry brush, grasslands and trees across eight counties.

California governor Jerry Brown and US senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris were due to attend a community meeting on Saturday afternoon in Santa Rosa, which has been hit hard. Brown has remained in state capital Sacramento this week, issuing emergency declarations and securing federal disaster relief.

Officials have said power lines toppled by gale-force winds the first night may have sparked the conflagration, though the official cause remained under investigation.

Much of the devastation centred in and around the Sonoma County town of Santa Rosa, where whole neighbourhoods were reduced to landscapes of gray ash, smouldering debris and burnt-out vehicles.

Some victims were asleep when flames engulfed their homes, and many survivors had only minutes to flee.

Resort in Danger

The picturesque town of Calistoga, at the northern end of Napa Valley, faced one of the biggest remaining hazards. Its 5,000-plus residents were ordered from their homes on Wednesday night as a fierce blaze dubbed the Tubbs fire crept to within 3.2 kilometres of city limits.

On Friday evening, fires raged along mountain ridges overlooking Calistoga, threatening to rain embers onto the town if strong winds blow out of the north as predicted, Cal Fire spokesman Dennis Rein said.

A resort and spa destination dating from the mid-1800s, Calistoga is famed for its mud baths, hot springs, geysers and a historic Western-style downtown.

The enclave is surrounded by vineyards and wineries, upscale hotels and even a replica of a medieval Italian castle, Castello di Amorosa, one of its best known attractions.

The 38 confirmed fatalities — with at least19 in Sonoma County — mark the greatest loss of life from a single fire event on record in California, surpassing the 29 deaths from the Griffith Park fire of 1933 in Los Angeles.

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said his office had investigated nearly 1,500 missing-persons reports stemming from the fires, and all but 235 had since turned up safe as of Friday evening.

Disruptions in communications and the failure of many evacuees to promptly check in with authorities or loved ones accounted for the overwhelming majority of individuals initially reported missing, authorities said.

Still, Mr Giordano said 45 search-and-rescue teams and 18 detectives had been deployed to scour obliterated neighbourhoods for more victims.

Finding Shelter

At a fairground converted to a shelter in the nearby city of Petaluma, about 250 cots were full by Friday, and people slept in tents in the parking lot as volunteers served porridge and eggs for breakfast.

Yasmin Gonzalez, 28, her four children and husband, a grape picker, were anxious to leave the shelter and return to their apartment in Sonoma.

"It's horrible to leave your home, and your things and not know what's going to happen," Ms Gonzalez said.

The region’s health system has also been weakened by the fires. Kaiser Permanent was forced to close its Santa Rosa medical centre and pharmacy, and many doctors and small practices evacuated.

Kaiser said on Friday that it was rerouting patients, some of whom complained of respiratory ailments as a result of smoke, to nearby medical centres.

At least 40 Sonoma County physicians have lost their homes in the fires, leaving the county medical association to seek alternative accommodations for them, agency director Wendy Young said.

The year's wildfire season is one of the worst in history in the United States, with nearly 8.6 million acres (3.5 million hectares) burnt, just behind 2012, according to the National Interagency Fire Centre.

In the worst year, 2015, about 9.3 million acres burnt.

The fires have thrown California's wine-producing industry, and related tourism, into disarray at the end of the region's annual grape harvest, damaging or destroying at least a dozen Napa Valley wineries.

The biog

Siblings: five brothers and one sister

Education: Bachelors in Political Science at the University of Minnesota

Interests: Swimming, tennis and the gym

Favourite place: UAE

Favourite packet food on the trip: pasta primavera

What he did to pass the time during the trip: listen to audio books

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 261hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 10.5L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh129,999 (VX Luxury); from Dh149,999 (VX Black Gold)

Why are you, you?

Why are you, you?
From this question, a new beginning.
From this question, a new destiny.
For you are a world, and a meeting of worlds.
Our dream is to unite that which has been
separated by history.
To return the many to the one.
A great story unites us all,
beyond colour and creed and gender.
The lightning flash of art
And the music of the heart.
We reflect all cultures, all ways.
We are a twenty first century wonder.
Universal ideals, visions of art and truth.
Now is the turning point of cultures and hopes.
Come with questions, leave with visions.
We are the link between the past and the future.
Here, through art, new possibilities are born. And
new answers are given wings.

Why are you, you?
Because we are mirrors of each other.
Because together we create new worlds.
Together we are more powerful than we know.
We connect, we inspire, we multiply illuminations
with the unique light of art.

 Ben Okri,

Aggro Dr1ft

Director: Harmony Korine
Stars: Jordi Molla, Travis Scott
Rating: 2/5

The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 299hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 2,750rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 12.4L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh157,395 (XLS); Dh199,395 (Limited)

What it means to be a conservationist

Who is Enric Sala?

Enric Sala is an expert on marine conservation and is currently the National Geographic Society's Explorer-in-Residence. His love of the sea started with his childhood in Spain, inspired by the example of the legendary diver Jacques Cousteau. He has been a university professor of Oceanography in the US, as well as working at the Spanish National Council for Scientific Research and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Biodiversity and the Bio-Economy. He has dedicated his life to protecting life in the oceans. Enric describes himself as a flexitarian who only eats meat occasionally.

What is biodiversity?

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, all life on earth – including in its forests and oceans – forms a “rich tapestry of interconnecting and interdependent forces”. Biodiversity on earth today is the product of four billion years of evolution and consists of many millions of distinct biological species. The term ‘biodiversity’ is relatively new, popularised since the 1980s and coinciding with an understanding of the growing threats to the natural world including habitat loss, pollution and climate change. The loss of biodiversity itself is dangerous because it contributes to clean, consistent water flows, food security, protection from floods and storms and a stable climate. The natural world can be an ally in combating global climate change but to do so it must be protected. Nations are working to achieve this, including setting targets to be reached by 2020 for the protection of the natural state of 17 per cent of the land and 10 per cent of the oceans. However, these are well short of what is needed, according to experts, with half the land needed to be in a natural state to help avert disaster.

Multitasking pays off for money goals

Tackling money goals one at a time cost financial literacy expert Barbara O'Neill at least $1 million.

That's how much Ms O'Neill, a distinguished professor at Rutgers University in the US, figures she lost by starting saving for retirement only after she had created an emergency fund, bought a car with cash and purchased a home.

"I tell students that eventually, 30 years later, I hit the million-dollar mark, but I could've had $2 million," Ms O'Neill says.

Too often, financial experts say, people want to attack their money goals one at a time: "As soon as I pay off my credit card debt, then I'll start saving for a home," or, "As soon as I pay off my student loan debt, then I'll start saving for retirement"."

People do not realise how costly the words "as soon as" can be. Paying off debt is a worthy goal, but it should not come at the expense of other goals, particularly saving for retirement. The sooner money is contributed, the longer it can benefit from compounded returns. Compounded returns are when your investment gains earn their own gains, which can dramatically increase your balances over time.

"By putting off saving for the future, you are really inhibiting yourself from benefiting from that wonderful magic," says Kimberly Zimmerman Rand , an accredited financial counsellor and principal at Dragonfly Financial Solutions in Boston. "If you can start saving today ... you are going to have a lot more five years from now than if you decide to pay off debt for three years and start saving in year four."

If you go

There are regular flights from Dubai to Kathmandu. Fares with Air Arabia and flydubai start at Dh1,265.
In Kathmandu, rooms at the Oasis Kathmandu Hotel start at Dh195 and Dh120 at Hotel Ganesh Himal.
Third Rock Adventures offers professionally run group and individual treks and tours using highly experienced guides throughout Nepal, Bhutan and other parts of the Himalayas.

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Titan Sports Academy:

Programmes: Judo, wrestling, kick-boxing, muay thai, taekwondo and various summer camps

Location: Inside Abu Dhabi City Golf Club, Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Telephone: +971 50 220 0326

Premier League results

Saturday

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Arsenal 1

Bournemouth 0 Manchester City 1

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Huddersfield Town 0

Burnley 1 Crystal Palace 3

Manchester United 3 Southampton 2

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Cardiff City 0

West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 0

Sunday

Watford 2 Leicester City 1

Fulham 1 Chelsea 2

Everton 0 Liverpool 0

How to avoid getting scammed
  • Never click on links provided via app or SMS, even if they seem to come from authorised senders at first glance
  • Always double-check the authenticity of websites
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your working and personal services
  • Only use official links published by the respective entity
  • Double-check the web addresses to reduce exposure to fake sites created with domain names containing spelling errors

The Sky Is Pink

Director: Shonali Bose

Cast: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Farhan Akhtar, Zaira Wasim, Rohit Saraf

Three stars

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

MATCH INFO

Manchester United 1 (Rashford 36')

Liverpool 1 (Lallana 84')

Man of the match: Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)


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