California wildfires claim 63 lives, 631 still missing

Updated: Nov 17, 2018, 10:33 IST | Agencies | Chico

The high number of missing people probably includes some who fled the blaze and didn't realise they had been reported missing, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said

An exhausted llama lays in a partially burned field in Paradise
An exhausted llama lays in a partially burned field in Paradise

At least 63 are now dead from a Northern California wildfire, and officials say they have a missing persons list with 631 names on it in an ever-evolving accounting of the missing after the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century.

The high number of missing people probably includes some who fled the blaze and didn't realise they had been reported missing, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. He added that he was making the list public so people could see if they were on it and let authorities know they were safe.

In this aerial photo, a burned neighbourhood is seen in Paradise. Pics/AFP
In this aerial photo, a burned neighbourhood is seen in Paradise. Pics/AFP

Some 52,000 people were displaced to shelters, the homes of friends and relatives, to motels, and to a Walmart parking lot and an adjacent field in Chico, a dozen miles away from the ashes. The Northern California fire that began a week earlier obliterated the town of Paradise and caused such carnage that searchers continued to pull bodies out of incinerated homes and cremated cars. The toll had reached 63 dead and 9,800 homes destroyed.

The fire was 40 per cent contained, but there was no timeline for allowing evacuees to return because of the danger. Power lines are still down, roads closed, and firefighters are still dousing embers.

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