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A figure of the Buddha outside one of at least 20 homes destroyed in the Point Dume area of Malibu in California on November 10, 2018. Known as the Woolsey Fire, it has consumed thousands of acres and destroyed dozens of homes.

California wildfires: Residents take stock of what they lost, and what remains

Statewide toll in fires climbs to 25

By AP in Los Angeles
  • Published 11.11.18, 3:25 PM
  • Updated 11.11.18, 3:29 PM
  • 2 mins read

Just a day ago, Arik Fultz was feeding the horses on his 40-acre ranch near Malibu.

Now, after wildfires roared through parts of Southern California, there's nothing left of his ranch but charred remains. His family and his 52 horses survived. But two houses, two barns, three trailers and decades of accumulated possessions are gone.

"It just doesn't feel real that it's all gone," he said.

Southern Californians like Fultz battered by the wildfires got to take a breath Saturday and take stock of what the wildfires did to them. A lull in fierce winds that drove a pair of destructive fires allowed firefighters to make their first real progress in stopping the blazes.

But a sustained stretch of vicious winds, and the strong possibility of a new round of troubles, were set to start Sunday.

Two people were found dead amid the larger of the two fires, Los Angeles County sheriff's Chief John Benedict said Saturday.

The severely burned bodies were discovered in a long residential driveway on a stretch of Mulholland Highway in Malibu, where most of the surrounding structures had burned.

Benedict did not have any details about the identities of the dead. He said detectives were investigating.

The deaths came as authorities in Northern California announced the death toll from a massive wildfire there has reached 23 people, bringing the statewide total to 25.

Southern California's fire had destroyed at least 150 homes, from Malibu mansions to modest dwellings in inland canyon communities.

No growth was reported Saturday on the larger of the two fires, which had torched 109 square miles (282 square kilometers). Firefighters now have the blaze 5 per cent contained, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.

The fire hopscotched around the Oak Park neighborhood of 70-year-old Bill Bengston, leaving most houses untouched.

The home for 22 years of Bengston and his wife, Ramona, was the only house on his block that burned. And it burned everything.

"It's all gone," he said softly as he sifted through the remains. "It's all gone."

The hardest to lose were the photos and the mementos handed down through the family — a cigar box that belonged to his great-grandfather; the handcuffs his father carried in World War II.

"We're somewhat devastated," Bengston said. "Still a little bit numb."

Photo Credit: AP
A home is spared after the wildfire swept through Malibu.
Photo Credit: AP
While one home was left untouched, in another place in Malibu all that remained of a house was a spiralling staircase.
Photo Credit: AP
Horses that survived are tied to lifeguard booths on the beach in Malibu.
Photo Credit: AP
A child's toy stands in the ruins of one of at least 20 homes destroyed in the Point Dume area of Malibu.
Photo Credit: AP
An iron figure stands in the yard of a home that survived, with others that did not in the background on Windermere Drive in Malibu.
Photo Credit: AP
A deer walks past a destroyed home on Orrin Lane after the wildfire burned through Paradise in California on Saturday. Not much is left in Paradise. Residents have fled and entire neighbourhoods are levelled.