Northern California fire kills 56; 130 missing

By: AP November 15,2018 - 11:17 PM

Magalia, California — As the scope of a deadly Northern California wildfire set in, the sheriff said more than 450 people had now been assigned to comb through the charred remains in search for more bodies.

The blaze has killed at least 56 people and authorities said 130 were unaccounted for.

Many of the missing were elderly and from Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 to the north of Paradise.

The one major roadway that runs through the mostly residential town was dotted with gas stations, a pizza shop, a hair salon and Chinese restaurant and convenience stores.

There was no Main Street or town center. Resident Johnny Pohmagevich said a Rite Aid on the main road was as much of a center as the town has.

“When I say downtown I mean Paradise,” said Pohmagevich, who opted to stay in Magalia even as fire closed in.

Pohmagevich, an 18-year Magalia resident who works at Timber Ridge Real Estate and lives just up the road from many burned homes, said he stayed to protect his employer’s property from looters and to prepare some cabins and mobile homes so business tenants can live if they come back.

“If this town does recover, it’s going to take many, many years,” he said.

A week after the deadly Camp Fire struck, police teams drove around Magalia searching for those still in their homes, checking if they need any food and water.

Crews from Pacific Gas & Electric were also in the area. With the death toll at 56, it was the deadliest wildfire in a century.

There were also three fatalities from separate blazes in Southern California.

As officials raised the loss of homes to nearly 8,800 on Wednesday, Sheriff Kory Honea said the task of recovering remains had become so vast that his office brought in another 287 searchers on Wednesday, including National Guard troops, bringing the total number of searchers to 461 plus 22 cadaver dogs.

He said a rapid-DNA assessment system was expected to be in place soon to speed up identifications of the dead, though officials have tentatively identified 47 of the 56.

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TAGS: 130, 56, California, fire, missing, northern

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