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Calif. Authorities Raise Wildfire Death Toll To 80, Lower Number Of Missing Persons

Ryan Spainhower and his wife Kimberly discover a coin they had made during their honeymoon amidst the burned ashes of their home in Paradise, Calif., on Sunday.
Image credit: Josh Edelson

Authorities in California have added an additional fatality to the official death toll of the Camp Fire, bringing its total number of deaths to at least 77.

The number of those unaccounted for decreased to 993 — about 300 fewer than Saturday’s count, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said on Sunday.

At least 80 people have died throughout California since wildfires broke out earlier this month. Three of fatalities were from the Woolsey Fire in the southern part of the state.

Authorities have not yet declared an official cause of the fires and are investigating their origins.

In a Camp Fire incident update Sunday night, authorities described their progress in containing the deadliest wildfire in state history.

“Crews have continued to work in steep and rugged terrain to implement direct and indirect control lines which will aid in stopping the fire’s forward progress,” they said. “Firefighters and utility cooperators worked within the fire’s interior to patrol for heat and remove hazards.”

Multiple California Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces and Human Remains Detection Canine Search Teams are assisting the Butte County Sheriff Department with the search and recovery of missing persons, authorities said.

The fire itself has grown smaller to 150,000 acres, and is now 65 percent contained. Authorities say they expect full containment by Nov. 30.

Over 5,300 personnel are battling the flames. More than 10,360 homes have been destroyed — the entire community of Paradise was reduced to a wasteland of ash and burned out buildings and cars.

Authorities continue to maintain a live evacuation map and structure damage map.

About 500 miles to the south in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, the Woolsey Fire is still burning.

At 96,949 acres, the fire is 91 percent contained, authorities said in their Sunday night update. Dry winds continue to pose a challenge to responders, who anticipate strong offshore winds that will lower humidity into Monday morning. Over 1,080 personnel are actively fighting the flames.

Nearly all evacuation orders have lifted, but that doesn’t mean evacuees will be able to return to their homes. Damage assessment teams have counted 1,452 destroyed structures so far. They’re 90 percent through examining structures affected by the fire.

Crews are remaining diligent and providing services to residents as they return to their homes, authorities say. They expect full containment by Thursday.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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