88 dead and 203 still missing after camp fire: NPR



Kimberly Spainhower kisses her daughter Chloe, 13, while her husband Ryan Spainhower searches the ashes of their burned house in Paradise, California, last week.

Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images


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Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images

Kimberly Spainhower kisses her daughter Chloe, 13, while her husband Ryan Spainhower searches the ashes of their burned house in Paradise, California, last week.

Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images

The camp's fire death toll has risen to 88, and there are 203 left, the Butte County Sheriff said at a Monday night press briefing.

The fire, the deadliest and most destructive of California's history, was subdued Sunday after 17 days of fire. It ravaged 153,336 acres (240 square miles).

Of the 88 dead, 54 were provisionally identified. 16 others were positively identified. Among these 16 people, 13 were residents of Paradise, the town nestled at the foot of Sierra Nevada, charred by a strange wasteland of burning cars and home foundations.

All but two of the dead were elderly.

"Unfortunately, many remains that we found were almost completely consumed by the fire," said Sheriff Kory Honea. "What they recover are bone and bone fragments."

Officials increased the number of deaths when a forensic laboratory determined that the previous remains believed to belong to two people were actually three.

No additional remains were located on Sunday. Honea has identified a "trend" of less and less leftover salvage each day.

"It's positive because we have made good progress in covering the vast majority of areas to cover," Honea said.

Butte County has a public list of 203 people still missing. Most of the missing are from paradise, many come from Magalia and some come from Chico, Concow, Berry Creek, Stirling City, Big Bend and Oroville.

Authorities reported that 2,689 missing persons were found.

Search and Rescue teams, coroners and forensic anthropologists continue their recovery and research efforts.

The fire destroyed 13,972 homes, 528 commercial structures and 4,293 other buildings. The repair staff continues to perform the rehabilitation as far as possible, according to the latest update of the incident.

"Many people are eager to return to their properties and communities," Honea said. "We are very much looking forward to bringing people back to their properties, but before we can allow this, we have to do it to make sure the place is safe for the public."

Several areas remain in the process of evacuation, including Paradise and Magalia.


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