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77 dead, 993 missing and 10,000 homes destroyed as California waits on rain

Firefighters managed to expand containment to 65% of the 234-square-mile burn zone over the weekend.

A search and rescue team from Cal Fire and El Dorado County look for a body on West Park Drive in Magalia
A search and rescue team from Cal Fire and El Dorado County look for a body on West Park Drive in Magalia
Image: Sacramento Bee/TNS/ABACA

THE TOLL FROM the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history rose further at the weekend to 77.

“One human remain was located today,” raising the toll by one in the so-called Camp Fire which broke out 10 days ago in northern California, a statement from the Butte County Sheriff said this morning.

The number of people unaccounted for has fallen to 993, down from a peak of more than 1,200, the statement added.

Authorities don’t believe all those on the list are missing and the roster dropped by 300 yesterday as more people were located or got in touch to say they weren’t missing. There are also understood to be duplicated names on the list. 

More than 10,000 homes have been destroyed in the blaze which has devoured an area roughly the size of Chicago, and essentially wiped the community of Paradise off the map.

Thousands fled and many found temporary refuge at churches or in tents.

US President Donald Trump surveyed the remains of Paradise during a visit on Saturday, and also toured the damage from another fire further south in Malibu, where three people died.

Firefighters managed to expand containment to 65% of the 234-square-mile burn zone.

Rain is forecast for midweek in the Paradise area. The National Weather Service, however, also said the area could get 32kph sustained winds and 64kph gusts, which could make it hard for crews to keep making progress against the blaze. Rain, while a relief for firefighters on the frontline, could complicate the search efforts. 

© AFP 2018 with reporting by AP

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