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natural disaster

It's no secret that we've had a rough fall and winter with natural disasters. Even as we write this, fires burn in Southern California, adding to the previous wildfires in the northern part of the state that burned over 245,000 acres in October.

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey devastated communities across Florida and Texas, while touching communities in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Louisiana.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

A 70-year old woman found dead in her car Wednesday night along a fire evacuation route in Ventura County is the first human fatality caused by wildfires that have scorched Southern California this week.

The Ventura County medical examiner said Virginia Pesola of Santa Paula, Calif., died due to blunt force trauma with terminal smoke inhalation and thermal injuries.

Updated at 10 p.m. ET

Driven by fierce Santa Ana winds, four intense fires near Los Angeles grew to engulf more than 115,000 acres Thursday, and officials say residents should continue to expect dangerous fire conditions, as both strong winds and very dry conditions persist.

Updated at 7 a.m. ET

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck northern Iraq and parts of Iran has killed more than 400 people in both countries and injured more than 6,000, according to officials. It is the strongest quake to hit the region in years.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Much of Puerto Rico remains devastated six weeks after Hurricane Maria, with many areas lacking access to electricity and clean water. The disaster has led some Puerto Rican families to relocate to the mainland.

This hour, family ties bring many evacuees to Connecticut--so how is our state welcoming these new arrivals in our community?

For some in New England, the deadly fires in California are a reminder of when fires overtook much of Maine around this time of year, 70 years ago. Wildfires in 1947 simultaneously burned over hundreds of miles for ten days, wiping out towns, and forever changing the landscape. 

The speed and ferocity of the wildfires raging through Northern California's wine country have caught many residents off guard and left state officials scrambling to contain the flames.

But for fire researchers, these devastating blazes are part of a much larger pattern unfolding across the Western United States. So far this year, fires in the U.S. have consumed more than 8.5 million acres — an area bigger than the state of Maryland.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

Thousands more people were fleeing their homes as some of the worst wildfires in California's history continued to sweep through wine country, leaving a trail of smoldering destruction and a death toll that authorities say has reached 31.

Updated at 11:40 p.m. ET

In the outbreak of powerful and destructive fires that have struck California since Sunday, there are now 22 large wildfires burning in the state. They've caused at least 23 deaths and scorched nearly 170,000 acres, officials said Wednesday.

Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET

At least 15 people have died in intense wildfires that have destroyed thousands of buildings in Northern California, where firefighters are battling 17 large blazes in the state's wine country, including Napa and Sonoma counties. Together, they've burned 115,000 acres, according to Cal Fire.

Updated at 8:08 p.m. ET.

As many as 10 people have died in wildfires that erupted in Northern California over the weekend, forcing residents in the wine country north of San Francisco to flee as homes went up in flames. At least 1,500 structures have been destroyed and 20,000 people evacuated, according to member station KQED.

Ken Cedeno / International Medical Corps

Dr. Robert Fuller visited five primary clinics in Puerto Rico Wednesday -- gong clockwise around the island from San Juan to Arroyo and then north to Caguas.  

Ken Cedeno / International Medical Corps

Most of Puerto Rico still has no power or running water one week after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

As Puerto Rico begins a slow recovery from Hurricane Maria's destruction, many Puerto Ricans in Connecticut are struggling to find ways to help  family members in need of food and water.

Ken Cedeno / International Medical Corps

Robert Fuller was loading his car with supplies in San Juan, getting ready to leave the battered capital for a trip inland to survey damage to local health facilities, when we caught up with him by phone.

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