California fires: What we know about the blazes that killed at least 23 and how to help

Massive out-of-control wildfires are ripping through California, causing insurmountable destruction and the evacuation of thousands on both ends of the state.

On Saturday, firefighters hoped that a brief lull in howling winds would give them a chance to block, or at least slow, one of two massive wildfires that have killed at least 23 people and caused the evacuations of hundreds of thousands.

Officials say more than 3,000 firefighters are battling the blazes but poor conditions have allowed the fires to grow.

Here's the latest on what we know about the wildfires:

Two fires in California 

It's not just one massive blaze, but two.

The Camp Fire, burning in northern California's Butte County, continues to grow. It's consumed more than 105,000 acres, 164 miles, and destroyed more than 6,700 homes and still isn't done. The blaze is 20 percent contained.

It's quick and devastating path has led to it being dubbed the most destructive blaze in California's history since recording-keeping began.

The blaze is still moving and 15,000 buildings remain threatened in its path. The town of Paradise, 80 miles north of Sacramento, was nearly entirely wiped out due to the fire.

Meanwhile, another fire in southern California is also wreaking havoc.

Cal Fire officials said             the Woolsey fire has destroyed at least 150 homes and has spread across 70,000 acres, 109 square miles. Thousands of residents have been forced from their homes, including the entire seaside town of Malibu.

Chief John Benedict of the L.A. County Sheriff's office said 50,000 homes housing 170,000 residents were under mandatory evacuation.

The fire is 5 percent contained, up from no containment Saturday morning.

A third fire, the              Hill Fire, is burning at about 4,000 acres nearby the Woolsey Fire but and continues to grow.

The victims

At least 23 people have been killed due to the fires. Another three firefighters were hurt battling the blaze.

Sheriff's deputies went house-to-house in the Northern California town of Paradise canvassing for the missing and discovered human remains in homes in the aftermath of the Camp Fire.

Earlier, the death toll was marked at nine but it went up drastically Saturday evening when authorities announced 14 more bodies were found.

Investigators said the first five victims' remains had been found inside vehicles in Paradise, one of many areas that were scorched by the massive, fast-moving blaze. Autopsies will be conducted to identify the victims and determine the circumstances of their deaths, said the Butte County Coroner's Office. After that, authorities will be notifying their next of kin.

In southern California, authorities were investigating after two people were discovered dead in a vehicle in the seaside town of Malibu.

Officials haven't said whether the deaths were due to the Woolsey Fire but Chief John Benedict of the L.A. County Sheriff's office said they were found severely burned in a vehicle on a long residential driveway. He released no other details.

If the pair were killed due to the fire, the death toll would rise to 25.

No names of the victims have been released.

Most destructive in California history 

The wildfire that devastated the northern California city of Paradise this week already the most destructive in state history in terms of structures burned, and the toll is likely to get even worse.

More than 6,700 structures burned to the ground in northern California's Camp Fire on Thursday and Friday, eclipsing the previous tally from last October's Tubbs Fire in the wine counties of Napa and Sonoma, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Authorities have not yet given a tally of structures destroyed by the Hill and Woolsey fires now burning in Ventura and Los Angeles, in Southern California.

The fires have killed at least nine people, driven more than 250,000 people from their homes and scorched over 140 square miles.

"A whole town was wiped out in 24 hours," Rocklin Police officer Jon Gee said of the damage in Paradise. "It's crazy."

The Camp Fire started 80 miles north of Sacramento, and officials still do not know a cause as it continues to spread.

Back-to-back disasters 

The Woosely Fire in southern California targeted the already devastated city of             Thousand Oaks.

As people across the region struggled to make sense of the brutal spraying of bullets that left 12 innocent dead at the Borderline Bar and Grill in the city, 95,000 people were pushed from their homes by the Woolsey and Hill fires.

"It's random. It doesn't make sense. A man snaps and he kills 13 people," said Thousand Oaks Mayor Pro Tem Rob McCoy who spent part of Thursday at a reunification center where families waited to find out if their loved ones died at the Borderline.

As he prepared for a vigil Thursday, McCoy learned his family needed to evacuate their home because of the Hill Fire. Friday morning, he visited evacuation centers to meet others chased from their homes.

"I could see it on the faces of folks, they were tired. The one thing I noticed with everybody is they were pulling together," he said. "We've been visited by absolute misery in the last couple of days. The sense of community is even stronger."

How to help

With thousands of homes destroyed and at least nine killed, the people of California could use the extra support.

Here are a few organizations where you can donate or volunteer your time to help out those affected by the disaster.

California Volunteers:             The state-run office manages programs and initiatives helping to increase public service in California. The group has activated for the disasters and has ways for you to help out, whether it be financially, volunteering or with donated goods,  in each of the fires.

American Red Cross: The American Red Cross is helping those in northern and southern California with finding shelter and providing assistance. The organization has listed ways for you to help. If you would like to make a $10 donation, visit   , call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999.

CCF Wildfire Relief Fund: The organization helps provide intermediate and long-term recovery efforts for major California wildfires and has local initiatives to help out those affected by the blaze.

Contributing: Kirk A. Bado and Doug Stanlin of USA TODAY; and Tom Kisken, Colin Atagi, Alexa D'Angelo and Rebecca Plevin of the Ventura County Star             

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