Death toll from Camp Fire rises to 76 as searchers find five more remains

The task is painstaking and painful. A searcher is given the name of someone who is unaccounted for and an a...

Posted: Nov 19, 2018 3:54 AM
Updated: Nov 19, 2018 3:54 AM

The task is painstaking and painful. A searcher is given the name of someone who is unaccounted for and an address.

A team heads over to the property, more than likely one where every evidence of life has been wiped out by flames. Many of the searchers are local and have lost their own homes. Now they look to see whether they can find the remains of their neighbors.

Accidents, disasters and safety

California

California wildfires

Continents and regions

Fires

Natural disasters

North America

Southwestern United States

The Americas

United States

Wildfires

Donald Trump

Political Figures - US

Deaths and fatalities

Society

Five more sets of remains were found Saturday, Butte County Sheriff and Coroner Kory Honea said.

There are now at least 76 dead from the Camp Fire, which has obliterated more structures and lives than any previous fire in California.

Almost all of the town of Paradise is gone. President Donald Trump witnessed the devastation for himself Saturday, accompanied by Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom.

"We're all going to work together and we'll do a real job, but this is very sad to see," Trump said.

A list of people unaccounted for has almost 1,300 names on it. Officials hope they find those people at shelters, or that missing people were simply without phone service and will eventually call in, or that they will figure out duplicate names when reconciling the list.

They are also trying to help thousands of people who did make it out alive but have nowhere to go, except for the parking lot of a Walmart and other places that are hosting thousands in their vehicles and tents.

"It is overwhelming, I don't have any word to describe it," Honea told CNN on Saturday. "This is unprecedented. No one has had to deal with this magnitude that caused so much destruction and regrettably so much death."

The deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history, the Camp Fire has destroyed more than 9,800 homes and scorched 149,000 acres since starting November 8. It was 55% contained as of Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, three deaths have been reported in the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, bringing the statewide death toll from the wildfires to 79.

'A lot of people don't know ... we're looking for them'

Even as the list of those missing in the Camp Fire has ballooned, it's hard to tell exactly how many people truly are lost, officials have said.

"That is raw data we're collecting from phone calls, emails and the 911 system," Honea said Saturday. "It's not perfect data, but our thought process is that it's better to get that information out to help start getting people accounted for. So rather than wait for perfection, we're trying to get some progress going."

Hundreds of deputies, National Guard troops, coroners and anthropologists are sifting through leveled homes and mangled cars for remains. While the focus is on the homes of people reported missing, some teams are going down streets from one property to the next.

"I want you to understand that there are a lot of people displaced, and we're finding that a lot of people don't know that we're looking for them," the sheriff said.

If people find their own or loved ones' names on the list at the Butte County Sheriff's Office's website, they should call the sheriff's office, Honea said.

In the midst of despair, hope remains. The mayor of Paradise told CNN Saturday that she is committed to rebuilding her town, as is the town council.

"Paradise is not gone," Jody Jones said, citing a friend's Facebook post. "It's just closed for remodeling."

Some heroes drive garbage trucks

Margaret Newsum gathered her medicine and other vital supplies and went outside her home in Magalia as the Camp Fire roared toward her home.

She had no phone service and no electricity, and she was just hoping someone would see her and come help.

Her rescue came in the form of a big green garbage truck and driver Dane Ray Cummings.

"He said, you're going with me," Newsum, 93, recalled.

Newsum recently broke her back and uses a walker to get around, which made it tricky to get up into the cab of his garbage truck. Cummings and some neighbors lifted her up and buckled her in, and they strapped her walker to the side of the truck.

Harrison, a single father, decided Newsum shouldn't go to an evacuation center so instead he took her home with him.

And she'll be there a while. Newsum's home wasn't destroyed, but it might be months before she can live there again.

Escape took them through ditches, front yards

With each day another story comes that makes it clearer how chaotic it was on the flame-filled and smoky day that the fire erupted.

Dan Newman, a team captain with the Butte County Sheriff's search and rescue team, said he originally was tasked with going door to door to alert people in the community of Concow to the fire.

The mission quickly changed to go to Paradise, about a 20-mile drive away, where a hospital was in danger.

"When we arrived at the hospital there were already flames, and all of a sudden the urgency just skyrocketed," he said.

His team went around to the ER entrance and threw four patients in its truck.

A hospital evacuation involved every kind of vehicle -- ambulances, police cars, buses, personal cars.

The road that went by the hospital was swamped with cars and accidents. Drivers used every bit of open space they could, including ditches and racing through front yards, to get by.

The fire was faster than any vehicle was moving.

"We had homes on fire on each side," he said, adding that there were times when he feared for their lives.

They got out, but another team couldn't and ended up back at the hospital.

3 deaths in Southern California

The Woolsey Fire burning in Southern California has destroyed 836 structures in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, Cal Fire said.

More than 98,000 acres have been burned since the blaze began November 8, while evacuees remain in shelters, and portions of Malibu and nearby areas must be rebuilt, officials said. It was 82% contained on Saturday morning, Cal Fire reported.

Impact Your World: How you can help the fire victims

"Resources will continue to mop up and patrol. Fire suppression repair teams are actively engaged working around the fire perimeter and affected areas," the agency said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Cal Fire reported some improvement in smoke levels regionally Saturday, but the air was still in the very unhealthy range.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 483790

Reported Deaths: 6543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1003791583
Ramsey42945800
Dakota36091387
Anoka33200384
Washington21986254
Stearns18703200
St. Louis14746262
Scott13209107
Wright12489115
Olmsted1176188
Sherburne869772
Carver765240
Clay688887
Rice667191
Blue Earth591035
Kandiyohi578474
Crow Wing518381
Chisago496844
Otter Tail481370
Benton444890
Winona416649
Mower402731
Douglas392268
Nobles386547
Goodhue384468
Polk342262
McLeod338349
Beltrami336751
Morrison323547
Lyon312444
Itasca311646
Becker309941
Isanti305354
Carlton299848
Steele299211
Pine281916
Freeborn279823
Nicollet256041
Todd246330
Brown243537
Le Sueur233920
Mille Lacs226747
Cass219124
Waseca208617
Meeker206934
Martin188228
Wabasha18613
Roseau179617
Hubbard160640
Houston157114
Dodge15154
Renville149040
Redwood146527
Fillmore13708
Chippewa135935
Cottonwood134520
Pennington131816
Wadena130220
Faribault122716
Aitkin118733
Sibley117110
Watonwan11708
Rock115614
Kanabec107319
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9438
Jackson93310
Swift87918
Pope8025
Marshall77615
Stevens7398
Lake73518
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68216
Wilkin66910
Koochiching61711
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5052
Grant4908
Norman4768
Unassigned44568
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40821
Red Lake3625
Traverse3025
Lake of the Woods2161
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 361499

Reported Deaths: 5412
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58007549
Linn20606312
Scott18279207
Black Hawk16223290
Woodbury14924211
Johnson1380473
Dubuque13522194
Dallas1132690
Pottawattamie10762143
Story1018945
Warren553474
Clinton542484
Cerro Gordo532781
Webster517687
Marshall495572
Sioux493469
Buena Vista472736
Des Moines457061
Muscatine450691
Wapello4314108
Jasper416266
Plymouth394277
Lee374752
Marion358469
Jones294354
Henry293037
Carroll285348
Bremer279154
Crawford273435
Boone259130
Washington253747
Benton252054
Mahaska223846
Jackson221138
Dickinson217238
Tama212965
Kossuth208154
Clay193125
Hamilton191942
Delaware188639
Winneshiek188427
Buchanan184629
Fayette184335
Page182619
Hardin180839
Wright179531
Harrison179469
Cedar177023
Clayton168053
Butler165831
Mills162820
Floyd162740
Madison154018
Poweshiek153630
Cherokee153535
Hancock146729
Lyon145941
Allamakee144946
Iowa144223
Grundy138830
Appanoose138647
Jefferson138232
Winnebago137730
Calhoun133311
Cass133351
Mitchell130640
Louisa128341
Union126331
Chickasaw124813
Sac124218
Emmet120940
Shelby120433
Franklin118419
Humboldt117225
Guthrie116228
Palo Alto104921
Montgomery103936
Howard102821
Clarke100320
Unassigned9850
Keokuk97829
Monroe93128
Adair91928
Ida90832
Pocahontas85219
Davis82523
Monona81527
Greene76910
Lucas73221
Osceola70314
Worth6947
Taylor66312
Fremont5869
Decatur5749
Van Buren56018
Ringgold51820
Wayne48721
Audubon4869
Adams3264
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Partly Cloudy
21° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 19°
Feels Like: 10°
Mason City
Clear
20° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 8°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
18° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 18°
Albert Lea
Clear
18° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 18°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
19° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 9°
Tracking a cool start to the work week then a big warm-up!
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Grizzlies clinch playoff spot

Image

Sex trafficking bill

Image

Vigil for Rochester crash victim

Image

Sara's Sunday Night Forecast

Image

Sara's Sunday Evening Forecast

Image

Cardboard sled race

Image

Sara's Saturday Night Forecast

Image

Bleu Duck local food market

Image

Aaron's Saturday Forecast

Image

Lake City athlete inspires community, experiences unforgettable senior night

Community Events