The Latest: Crews make progress with N. California wildfire
CHICO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California’s wildfires (all times local):
Fire officials say firefighters have gained ground against a Northern California wildfire that killed at least 79 people.
The California The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Tuesday that the fire is now 70 percent contained. That’s up from 66 percent Monday morning. The blaze’s size remained at 236 square miles (611 square kilometers).
The gains come ahead of rain forecast for the region starting Wednesday that is expected to last through the Thanksgiving weekend.
The National Weather Service has issue and flash flood watch for wildfire-scarred areas.
It says newly burned areas in and around Paradise are prone to downhill ash and debris flows.
Officials say they worry rain could complicate the efforts of the crews searching for human remains by washing away signs of the dead or turning the dusty debris into a thick paste.
With 79 people killed in the nation’s deadliest wildfire in at least a century, there are still nearly 700 names on the list of those unaccounted for. While it’s down from nearly 1,000 the day before, it is inexact, progress has been slow, and the many days of uncertainty are adding to the stress.
More than a dozen people are marked as “unknowns,” without first or last names. In some cases, names are listed twice or more times under different spellings. Others are confirmed dead, and their names simply haven’t been taken off yet.
Survivors and relatives of those caught in the fire in Northern California are using social media to get the word out. In some cases, they post that their loved ones were safe. In others, they plead for help.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea has said he released the rough and incomplete list in hopes that people would contact authorities to say they are OK. He has called it raw data compiled from phone calls, emails and other reports.