Since the Camp Fire erupted November 8 in Butte County, it has killed 77 people, destroyed more than 10,500 homes and torched an area the size of Chicago. Across California, at least 80 people have died in wildfires this month.
“It is overwhelming, I don’t have any word to describe it,” Butte County Sheriff and Coroner Kory Honea said. “This is unprecedented. No one has had to deal with this magnitude that caused so much destruction and regrettably so much death.”
Meanwhile, displaced residents are in limbo. Many are in Chico, Butte County’s most populous city, about 15 miles from ground zero of the disaster, the town of Paradise.
“That is raw data we’re collecting from phone calls, emails and the 911 system,” Honea said. “It’s not perfect data, but our thought process is that it’s better to get that information out to help start getting people accounted for. So rather than wait for perfection, we’re trying to get some progress going.”
Hundreds of deputies, National Guard troops, coroners and anthropologists are sifting through leveled homes and mangled cars for remains.
“There are a lot of people displaced, and we’re finding that a lot of people don’t know that we’re looking for them,” the sheriff said.
‘We’re not the only family that’s going through this’
Sadia Quint has no idea what happened to her uncle, David William Marbury, who lived in a house in the largely obliterated town of Paradise.
“We already know that his house has been burned down and his car was in his garage,” Quint said. “So now we’re just waiting for the sheriff’s department to go out there and let us know if his body’s in there or not.”
Her family has provided DNA samples in case authorities find Marbury’s remains.
“We’re being patient just because we know we’re not the only family that’s going through this right now,” Quint said. “So everyone’s kind of in it together and everyone’s being really supportive.”
But as the hours pass with no news on her uncle, Quint said she’s prepared for the worst.
“He had respiratory issues and he had back problems,” Quint said. “It’s hard to think about him not being here anymore. But as a family, we have accepted whether we get good or bad news. So we’re just prepared for both.”
Escaping through ditches, front yards
The harrowing escape from fast-moving flames still haunt Dan Newman.
The road that went by the hospital was swamped with cars and accidents. Drivers used every bit of open space they could to escape, racing through ditches and front yards, Newman said.
The fire was moving faster than any vehicle could, he said.
“We had homes on fire on each side,” he said.
Newman’s team managed to get out, but another team couldn’t and ended up back at the hospital.
Southern California blaze kills 3 people
At least three people have been killed and more than 96,000 acres have been torched by the Woolsey Fire, Cal Fire said.
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