Debris and residences leveled by the wildfire line a neighborhood in Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Missing-persons list tops 600 in fire-stricken California

Disaster escalates as officials raised the death toll to 63

  • Nov. 16, 2018 1:00 p.m.

The potential magnitude of the wildfire disaster in Northern California escalated as officials raised the death toll to 63 and released a missing-persons list with 631 names on it more than a week after the flames swept through.

The fast-growing roster of people unaccounted for probably includes some who fled the blaze and do not realize they have been reported missing, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said late Thursday.

He said he made the list public in the hope that people will see they are on it and let authorities know they are OK.

“The chaos that we were dealing with was extraordinary,” Honea said of the crisis last week, when the flames razed the town of Paradise and outlying areas in what has proved to be the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century. “Now we’re trying to go back out and make sure that we’re accounting for everyone.”

READ MORE: B.C. couple help wildfire evacuees in northern California

Firefighters continued gaining ground against the 575-square-kilometre blaze, which was reported 45 per cent contained Friday. It destroyed 9,700 houses and 144 apartment buildings, the state fire agency said.

Rain in the forecast Tuesday night could help knock down the flames but also complicate efforts by more 450 searchers to find human remains in the ashes. In some cases, search crews are finding little more than bones and bone fragments.

Some 52,000 people have been displaced to shelters, the motels, the homes of friends and relatives, and a Walmart parking lot and an adjacent field in Chico, a dozen miles away from the ashes.

At the vast parking lot, evacuees wondered if they still have homes, if their neighbours are still alive, and where they will go from here.

“It’s cold and scary,” said Lilly Batres, 13, one of the few children there, who fled with her family from the forested town of Magalia and didn’t know whether her home was still standing. “I feel like people are going to come into our tent.”

At the other end of the state, more residents were being allowed back in their homes near Los Angeles after a wildfire torched an area the size of Denver. The 153-square-mile blaze was 69 per cent contained after destroying more than 600 homes and other structures, authorities said. At least three deaths were reported.

Schools across a large swath of the state were closed because of smoke, and San Francisco’s world-famous open-air cable cars were pulled off the streets.

Information for contacting the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance was posted on a board that allowed people to write the names of those they believed were missing. Several names had “Here” written next to them.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Gloves rest in a scorched car after the Camp Fire burned through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Just Posted

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

Editor, The Times:

Take extra time, extra care

United Steelworkers strike hits Vavenby

Union members say wages for workers aren’t keeping up with inflation

Barriere family airlifted to Vancouver due to carbon monoxide exposure have now returned home

A family of five from Barriere was transported to Vancouver for medical… Continue reading

United Steelworkers strike hits Vavenby

Union members say wages for workers aren’t keeping up with inflation

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Most Read