- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. (AP) - The latest on wildfires raging in California (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

California Gov. Jerry Brown says he has requested that President Barack Obama declare a major disaster in the state after two wildfires killed five people, scorched more than 200 square miles and destroyed roughly 1,600 homes.

Brown said in a statement Monday that a presidential major disaster declaration would provide funds to support fire victims and to supplement state and local disaster recovery efforts.

He says more than 30,000 people had to evacuate because of the blazes.

A presidential major disaster declaration authorizes long-term federal recovery programs and is designed to help public entities and select nonprofit organizations.


11 a.m.

Authorities say the death of a man near the ignition point of an active Northern California wildfire appears to have been a suicide.

The Monterey County Sheriff’s department said the man’s body was found outside his burned-out car in Monterey County about 140 miles south of San Francisco.

The Monterey County coroner planned an autopsy Monday to determine cause of death. The coroner hasn’t released the man’s name pending notification of his family.

Cal Fire officials say haven’t determined the cause of the fire and whether the man’s suicide played a role. The 1,086-acre fire has destroyed 10 homes and was 30 percent contained Monday morning.


8:30 a.m.

Crews who made gains overnight on one of the worst wildfires in California history are mopping up hot spots and strengthening control lines north of San Francisco.

The fire, which has killed at least three people and destroyed nearly 1,700 homes and other buildings, was 70 percent contained Monday. About 3,500 homes are still threatened by the blaze, considered the fourth-worst in state history based on total structures burned.

Officials say crews assessing damage this weekend counted 162 more destroyed homes. The fire has charred 118 square miles.

A much smaller blaze south in Monterey County was 30 percent contained after destroying 10 homes. Firefighters found a body inside a charred vehicle after the fire began Saturday, but investigators are looking at the man’s death as a possible suicide.

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