The search for remains of victims in the charred ruins of the northern California town of Paradise was set to expand on Wednesday, while firefighters stepped up efforts to contain the state’s deadliest-ever wildfire.
The death toll from the northern blaze, dubbed “Camp Fire”, climbed to 48 late on Tuesday after six more bodies were recovered from homes in the town. That brings the statewide death toll from all the fires burning in California to at least 50.
More than 220 people remained missing in the northern California fire but, on Tuesday night, local county Sheriff Kor Honea said those numbers were highly fluid as some individuals could have just fallen out of touch with relatives and friends during the chaotic evacuations.
“It (the fire) was so fast,” Anna Dise, a resident of Butte Creek Cayon west of Paradise, told KRCR TV. She said her father, 66-year-old Gordon Dise, was among those who died in the fire. They had little time to evacuate and their house collapsed as her father went back in to gather belongings.
Dise said she could not drive her car because the tyres had melted and that to survive, she hid overnight in a neighbour’s pond with her dogs. “I didn’t expect it to move so fast,” she said.