Remains of at least 71 people have been recovered in Northern California, United States, since a wildfire began blazing through the area on Nov 8. More than 1,000 people are reported missing.
California Death Toll Rises to 25 After 14 Charred Bodies Found
Camp Fire, one of three wildfires currently being contained in California, blazed through Paradise, a small town of 27,000 people in the Sierra foothills. The town, 175 miles north of San Francisco, has been largely incinerated.
Those displaced have sought refuge in the homes of relatives or friends while others are sleeping in tents.
At least 1,100 evacuees were being housed in 14 emergency shelters set up in churches, schools and community centers around the region. A total of more than 47,000 people remain under evacuation orders, authorities said.
Butte County Sheriff Korea Honea said the roster of people unaccounted for increased to 1,011 people, up from the 630 whose names were published Thursday.
"This is a dynamic list," compiled from "raw data" that likely included some duplications or multiple spellings of names, Honea said. Some may have likely survived, while others may not have been listed due to delays in reports.
Honea said that the remains of eight more victims were recovered Friday, bringing the death toll to 71.
Authorities attribute the high death toll to the speed of the flames that raced through the town of Paradise, carried by strong winds and fueled by drought-affected landscapes.
Camp Fire, the state's deadliest wildfire, has reached 146,000 acres in a matter of nine days. It is now only 50 percent contained.
The wildfire occurred as a series of smaller fires blazed in Southern California, around Los Angeles. Most notably the Woolsey Fire, which is linked to three fatalities and has destroyed at least 500 structures near the Malibu coast, west of Los Angeles. It was 78 percent contained on Friday night.
U.S. President Donald Trump, due to visit the fire zones and meet displaced residents Saturday, blamed the recent fires on forest mismanagement.
However, the cause of the fires remains unknown.
Two of the wildfires, Camp Fire in the north and Woosley in the south, are under investigation. Electric utilities reported equipment problems near the vicinity of both blazes around the time they ignited.
California's wildfire season was once between mid-summer to early autumn. However, climate scientists say it has expanded into a year-long threat due to drought and dry seasons.
"Climate change is affecting how dry the vegetation is and that affects how fast the fire spreads," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Scientists have said the growing frequency and intensity of wildfires in California and elsewhere across the West are due to a great extent to prolonged drought related to climate change.