Saturday , May 28 2022

The death toll rises to 71 in the California fires as relatives seek out the missing


Messages are displayed in front of a church in Chico, California, while evacuating, family and friends are looking for people who lack the rescue fire in northern California. North California officials fought to get a handle on the number of people missing from the deadliest fire in at least a century in the United States. (Gillian Flaccus / AP)

In a mist that loses his neck, disabled retired Michael French has strained on a car park to send a California sample to the California authorities who hopes to help him find his missing niece.

The 62-year-old Frenchman said he and other relatives were looking for Wendy because the wildest, most destructive fire in California's history passed through 11,000 homes and buildings in Paradise and adjacent mountain communities on November 8 leaving at least 71 deaths.

"Nobody has heard of her at all. She has not made contact with us, so I'm deeply worried," the Frenchman said. The family assumes the worst.

As firefighters struggle to include the Fire Camp, the authorities have stepped up efforts to identify the lost and dead. Volunteer teams with white protective equipment searched for dark ground, and family members came to improvised DNA centers where their mouths were buffered to help identify the remains of the victims. The remains of at least 13 victims have not been identified, said Sheriff County Butte, Kory Honea.

The list of unregistered individuals exceeded 1,000 on Friday after the authorities released more than 600 names in an effort to identify those who were found by friends and relatives. The amazing summary has raised fears that death will increase exponentially.

The long list even confused President Trump, who said on Friday that "as many as 600 people" could have lost in the flames.

"It's incredible," said Trump, who is scheduled to visit the area on Saturday an interview with Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace.

But as the names of the unseen have expanded to quadruple figures, Honea warned that many of them might be safe but did not ask the authorities to confirm. Some names in the list could be duplicated with different spellings, he added.

"We have an important event, an unprecedented event, where a large number of people have been displaced and scattered all over North California," he explained, explaining why it was difficult to confirm the lack of extended names .

Among those who had been found but who were still listed as unregistered, was Suzanne Heffernan's mother, Shirley Woodhouse. Heffernan spoke with her parents as they evacuated their home in Paradise a week earlier and she and her four brothers were in direct contact with the welfare of their parents.

So Heffernan was surprised to receive a phone call from a local sheriff's office, telling her Thursday that her 80-year-old mother was on the unregistered list. One of Woodhouse's high school friends added it.

It's interesting, she said, "if aliens and non-family members add people to the missing list."

Authorities and residents of Paradis – a 26,000-strong community located in the foothills of Sierra Nevada – said the number of deaths would likely increase in this city, where many came to retreat and escape the agitation of the city, although it is unclear how big is it. Among the inhabitants are many elderly or infirm who failed to escape as the flames approached.

Honea said that "it is certainly in the realm of the possibility that we will never know" the exact number of people killed in the fire.

"My sincere hope is to identify all those who are missing and identify any remnants," he added. "But this is the nature of this tragedy … This is a massive massive action."

Despite days of search for the burned surface with the largest search and rescue team in state history, the authorities said they barely scratched the surface of the area that could contain human remains.

This could mean a long wait for the friends and relatives of the missing.

Friday would be Dorothy Lee Mack's birthday, and her sister-in-law would not have heard of it since the fire went through Ridgewood Home Mobile Park, where Mack lived at number nineteen.

Mack is not one to give up easily, said her sister-in-law, Marian Mack. She survived poliomyelitis at the age of 10 and later was a period of cancer and two hip replacements. But Marian did not know if Dorothy had heard the emergency officials who rushed through the mobile homes at 6:30 today calling bells to wake their sleepers.

"It was a terrible time," said Marian Mack, who sometimes visited Dorothy's birthday. "We have to wait and pray."

Camp Fire has consumed more than 140,000 hectares – an area of ​​Chicago's size – and is owned 50%. But multiple fires continue to get angry in the state. In southern California, Woolsey Fire brightened in an area from the Simi Valley to the millions of dollar beach homes in Malibu. At least three people were killed in that fire.

More than 9,000 firefighters are working to stop Camp and Woolsey fires with water tanks and helicopters, fires that have destroyed over 12,000 structures, according to Cal Fire.

The National Meteorological Service issued a red warning in the Camp Fire area for Saturday night through Sunday, which means strong wind could cause rapid flare spread. Authorities add fire crews to prevent the increase of fire.

Also, efforts are being made to identify human remains by posting "Rapid DNA" machines near fire scenes. The technology allows relatives to provide their genetic material through a cheek pad and compare it to a database of unidentified victims in less than two hours.

The machines, the size of a mini-refrigerator, are part of a new initiative that is launched by law enforcement authorities after receiving approval from last year's Congress. The FBI hopes to launch a pilot program for the police to test suspects at reservation stations and sends out results to state-owned crime lab and national DNA database early next year, the agency said.

ANDE, a company in Waltham, Mass., Is one of two companies approved to provide fast-track analysis machines to the government and sent six of them to various fire control posts on Wednesday, Communications Officer Annette Mattern said. DNA samples collected there will only be used to identify victims, she said, and these machines are not connected to the national DNA database.

Authorities hope to encourage more relatives of missing people to use them. Only 17 DNA samples have been processed, they said.

On Friday, the displaced people who are camping in a Walmart car park in Chico visited an abandoned shop in Sears, where the federal agency for emergency management provided services.

37-year-old Jeff Hansen waited a few hours to request emergency relief for his nine-member family, including a 36-year-old wheelchair brain paralysis brother. He lost his house in Paradise, work, and one of the three cars in the fire.

"We hope FEMA will help us," Hansen said.

The center has also become a place for improvised meetings because displaced people fled to friends and neighbors who feared they would have died in the fire.

Lindsay Nelson, 37, cared for the days of her 78-year-old girlfriend Jay Jay. But when he saw him in the center, Nelson embraced them and broke a photo to post on Facebook.

"Nobody heard of him, I thought he was missing, so I'm so glad to see him and know he's okay," said Nelson, who lived in Paradise, but lost the house he had rented there . "This is such a relief. I do not want to hear that none of my friends has succeeded, it would be too hard with everything that's going on."

But once the number of deaths has started to rise, Nelson continues to get worse.

"The truth is that everyone knows they will know someone who has failed," she said. "The truth is we will have to build a memorial in Paradise."

Annie Gowen and Frances Sellers reported from Washington. Tom Jackman and Julie Tate contributed to this Washington report.

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