Gerard Butler chokes up as he talks about California wildfires

Credit PA

The hellish California wildfires are now the most destructive in state history, authorities said Monday as they continued the grim task of searching for bodies and investigated whether faulty utility equipment sparked the blazes.

Randy and Paula Dodge are among hundreds of people reported missing after a massive blaze, called the Camp Fire, levelled the Northern California town of 27,000.

Fierce Santa Ana winds continue to threaten lives and homes in Southern California's Woolsey Fire, which has killed two people so far.

Paradise, which is home to many retirees and has experienced an unusually dry fall, was virtually razed to the ground by the fast-moving "Camp Fire" blaze.

"I was like, 'I think I'm done, '" said Allyn Pierce, a nurse who fled the fire in Paradise in his truck.

"Tell the kids that I love them and to check on my dad", she added.

The fires have spread with an erratic intensity that has strained firefighting resources while catching many residents by surprise.

The town's mayor has estimated that 80-90% of the town's neighbourhoods were destroyed in the fire.

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"I want to recover as many remains as we possibly can, as soon as we can", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Monday night as he announced the discovery of 13 more dead. The fire stormed through Paradise, leaving behind near-total devastation.

A helicopter makes a water drop on the Woolsey Fire near Malibu, California.

The "Camp Fire", which erupted on Thursday, has ravaged 125,000 acres (50,585 hectares) of land and is 30 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. The fire has also claimed the homes of some noteworthy celebrities. Some 52,000 residents have been forced to evacuate.

The images above show a wider view of the region north of Sacramento where the Camp Fire torched more than 113,000 acres.

"We've got 60 to 70 miles per hour offshore Santa Ana winds blowing for the next several days and those are just deadly", Pimlott said on Monday.

Countless homes and businesses have been destroyed and at least 44 people have died in the fires that broke out last week, despite the tireless efforts of thousands of firefighters across the state.

Gaga thanked the firefighters who were working tirelessly to keep the fires at bay. The first notice came on Thursday, when investigators found the remains of five people in Paradise who were apparently trapped in their cars by the blaze.

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