Filipino among fatalities in North Carolina wildfire–DFA

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AN unidentified Filipino was among the fatalities in the wildfire currently engulfing North California’s wine area, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.

“We offer our sincere sympathies and prayers to the family of our kababayan who perished in this horrific fire,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.

The Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco reported that the Filipino’s remains were recovered on October 14 in Napa County.

“I have instructed our Consulate General in San Francisco to offer all possible assistance to the family and to continue to closely monitor the welfare of other Filipinos in the affected areas,” he said.

Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon Ascalon has been in touch with the victim’s family and has offered assistance in the repatriation of the victim’s remains.

“We also continue to communicate with the Filipino community through our social media advisories, and have offered consular assistance to Filipinos affected by the wildfires,” Ascalon said.

Approximately 100,000 people have been evacuated.  More than 10,000 firefighters are currently battling 16 large wildfires that have burned over 86,600 hectares.

The fires have destroyed 5,700 structures and have claimed at least 40 lives.

There are an estimated 13,500 Filipinos living in the Napa, Sonoma, and Yuba counties, which are the areas most affected by the wildfires.  

An estimated 4,200 Filipinos live in the other counties of Marin and Mendocino.

As of Oct. 14, red flag warnings have been raised in Northern California due to strong winds, which have increased fire activity.

Dry, windy, and hot conditions from late spring through autumn cause periodic wildfires in California.  

The most recent wildfire, in 2014, affected more than 54,000 hectares of land.  

The largest wildfire in recent history was recorded in 2012, which affected almost 128,000 hectares of land in California and Nevada. BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO

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