Marcus Yam /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California wildfires have claimed 66 lives, with another 631 still missing

November 16, 2018 - 5:20 am
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(PARADISE, Calif.) -- Search crews found seven more bodies in the burned out rubble of Paradise, California, on Thursday, and officials fear more deaths in the destructive blazes at both ends of the state that have now claimed 66 lives.

The deadliest and most destructive of the two wildfires is the Camp Fire in Northern California's Butte County, which has killed at least 63 people. The seven bodies found Thursday were all as a result of the Camp Fire, officials said.

There were more than 631 people missing in the Butte County fire zones on Thursday night, though officials were working to track them down. Butte County officials asked residents to go to the sheriff's website to check the missing persons list to make sure they are not on it.

Thom Porter, chief of strategic planning for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, said the death toll from the Camp Fire is expected to go higher as search crews comb through at least 11,862 structures destroyed by the blaze.

"It is by far the most deadly single fire in California history and it's going to get worse, unfortunately," Porter said of the Camp Fire.

Gov. Jerry Brown toured the devastation caused by the Camp Fire on Wednesday with Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The government leaders visited firefighters still battling the blaze, which burned 138,000 acres and obliterated the town of Paradise, destroying nearly every home in the community of 30,000 people.

"This is one of the worst disasters I've ever seen in my career, hands down," Long said at a news conference Wednesday in Northern California.

Brown said the destruction "looks like a war zone." He said he spoke earlier Wednesday to President Donald Trump, "who pledged the full resources of the federal government" to help in the recovery effort.

Trump said he plans to visit the area on Saturday to meet with survivors and firefighters.

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