After nearly two weeks of fighting the worst fire in the history of California, the predicted rainfall could be welcomed as a blessing. They are, on the contrary, feared. By their intensity, they may cause landslides, which could hinder the efforts of authorities to find the remains of victims.
To date, 79 people perished in the flames, according to the last count of the Cal Fire, the california department of forestry and fire protection. The final tally could be much higher. About 1,000 people are still missing. The sheriff of the county of Butte, Kory Honea, assessed their number to 993 people, against 1276, according to the previous census, held on Saturday.
a Call to provide samples of DNA
This figure is very inaccurate because it has been prepared on the basis of “raw” data, such as phone calls placed to the emergency. Some of the names spelled in different ways could also have been recorded several times and some survivors have not reported to the authorities or to their families. The authorities called in the relatives of people missing to provide DNA samples to help the identification of recovered bodies.
The fire, called “Camp Fire”, said on November 8, and was reduced to ashes Paradise, a city of 27,000 inhabitants in the county of Butte, located 280 miles north of San Francisco.The flames have destroyed some 12,000 homes and more than 61.100 acres, announced Monday, Cal Fire, adding that firefighters had managed to gain ground in recent days to contain the damage to about 70%.
“It is very sad to see.(…) In terms of the number of dead, no one truly knows at this point, there are a lot of missing people.”
The fire-fighting efforts should take advantage of the significant rain is expected between Tuesday night and Friday north of San Francisco, said a member of the national weather service of Patrick Burke. These heavy falls of rain, however, could cause dangerous mudslides and make more difficult the work of the scientific teams, who are looking for human remains among the debris. “This is going to cover and stick to it. It will be much more difficult to find human remains,” said one analyst, Colleen Fitzpatrick. “We can’t do anything against that,” she added.
Sunday, the faithful gathered in a church near Chico, about twenty miles west of Paradise, a city razed by the flames. “We renaîtrons of our ashes”, could one read at the top of the church, where gathered including survivors of the fire.
The day before, president Donald Trump went to Paradise to see the extent of the damage. “It is very sad to see,” he said after spending twenty minutes in a camp of mobile homes, where only an american flag brought a touch of color in the middle of the ashes. “In terms of the number of dead, no one truly knows at this point, there are a lot of missing persons”, he added.
The “Camp Fire” is one of the fire-the deadliest in the United States since the beginning of the Twentieth century, comparable to the “Big Burn”, which has been 87 deaths in August 1910 in the northern Rockies. It remains far from the “Cloquet Fire” that has been 450 deaths in October 1918 in Minnesota. In southern California, “Woolsey Fire” has made three dead, nearly 200,000 displaced people and destroyed more than 500 buildings near Malibu, a coastal city west of Los Angeles. It was contained Monday at 94%.