More than 600 people listed as missing in California fires

Muriel Colon
November 16, 2018

A further 631 people remained unaccounted for, a vast increase from just a day prior when officials said 130 people were missing.

Janes adds that her "heart is quite heavy" but that "God will see us through". The Butte County disaster coincided with a flurry of smaller blazes in Southern California, including the Woolsey Fire, which has been linked with three fatalities and destroyed at least 500 structures in the mountains and foothills near the Malibu coast west of Los Angeles.

The wildfire - which started on November 8 - remains the deadliest in California state history, leaving more than 8,500 structures destroyed and 140,000 acres of land scorched.

At a shelter set in a church in nearby Oroville, a bulletin board was plastered with dozens of photos of missing people, along with messages and phone numbers.

The White House said President Donald Trump, who has blamed the fires on "gross mismanagement of the forest", would travel to California on Saturday to meet with victims and review the damage.

"I want you to understand that the chaos we were dealing with was extraordinary", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told journalists as he explained the staggering new figure.

Nicole said she fled once her home's mailbox caught fire and neighbors' propane tanks began exploding.

Authorities also raised the number of homes destroyed by the wildfire to 9,700.

The death toll from the devastating Camp fire jumped to 63 on Thursday as search crews recovered seven more bodies in the burn area.

Cal Fire said the Camp Fire had grown to 140,000 acres (57,000 hectares), but was 40% contained.

Paradise sits on a ridge between two higher hills, with only one main exit out of town.

Authorities said it was unclear when residents would be allowed back into the town. Paradise even conducted a mock evacuation during a morning commute, turning the main thoroughfare into a one-way street out of town.

"The fact that we have thousands and thousands of people in shelters would clearly indicate that we were able to notify a significant number of people", the sheriff said. The fire was 62 per cent contained after destroying almost 550 homes and other buildings.

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