The statewide death toll in Californias wildfires has reached 50 as rescuers continue to search for the missing persons, authorities said. The deaths from the Camp fire, the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history, increased to 48 on Tuesday, said Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.
Two people died in the Woolsey fire, a major blaze in Southern California that charred more than 150 square miles, an area larger than the size of Denver, CNN reported.
Authorities in northern California ramped up the search for more victims buried in rubble left by the blaze that incinerated the town of Paradise. The death toll increased after an additional six bodies were discovered in the town.
All the six victims were found in their homes. More than 200 people were still missing as a result of the fire and the list of names would be published soon, said the Butte County Sheriff. He also said the recovery teams were using “cutting-edge technology” to identify the badly-burnt bodies.
According to reports, a Rapid DNA-analysis system was set up in the decimated town, equipped with portable devices that can identify someone’s genetic material in hours, rather than the days or weeks it takes to test samples in labs.
There had been 208 suspicious incidents reported in Camp Fire’s evacuation zone, with 18 of them linked to looting, according to an announcement by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday. Six people had been arrested.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said the fire had scorched 130,000 acres (526.1 square km) with 35 per cent contained.
According to reports, the fire was still actively burning and more than 5,000 fire personnel were on the scene from across the country. They continued to battle flames including in the area north of Magalia near Stirling City. With increased visibility, planes were able to deliver retardant as crews on the ground worked in steep inaccessible terrain, Cal Fire authorities said.
More than 7,600 structures were destroyed. The vast majority of those were homes in Paradise, a Sierra foothill town of 27,000 about 180 miles north of San Francisco.