Search for bod­ies among charred ru­ins

Fires may be dead­li­est in Cal­i­for­nia his­tory

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - World -

Search-and-res­cue teams, some with ca­daver dogs, started look­ing for bod­ies Thurs­day in parts of Cal­i­for­nia wine coun­try dev­as­tated by wild­fires, an in­di­ca­tion that more dead were al­most sure to emerge from the charred ru­ins of com­mu­ni­ties con­sumed by the flames.

At least 27 peo­ple have died and at least 3,500 homes and busi­nesses have been de­stroyed by the blazes, which could be­come the dead­li­est and most de­struc­tive in Cal­i­for­nia his­tory. Sonoma County Sher­iff Robert Gior­dano said of­fi­cials were still in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ports of miss­ing peo­ple and that re­cov­ery teams would soon be­gin con­duct­ing “tar­geted searches” for spe­cific res­i­dents.

“We have found bod­ies al­most com­pletely in­tact, and we have found bod­ies that were noth­ing more than ash and bones,” the sher­iff said. Some re­mains have been iden­ti­fied us­ing med­i­cal de­vices. Metal im­plants, such as ar­ti­fi­cial hips, have ID num­bers that helped iden­tify the per­son.

Winds up to 72 km/h were ex­pected Thurs­day in ar­eas north of San Fran­cisco, and stronger, more er­ratic gusts were forecast for Fri­day.

“We are not even close to be­ing out of this emer­gency,” Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Direc­tor Mark Ghi­lar­ducci said Thurs­day.

More than 8,000 fire­fight­ers were bat­tling the blazes, and more man­power and equip­ment was pour­ing in from across the coun­try and from as far as Aus­tralia and Canada, of­fi­cials said.

The fe­ro­cious fires that started Sun­day lev­elled en­tire neigh­bour- hoods in parts of Sonoma and Napa coun­ties. In an­tic­i­pa­tion of the next round of flames, en­tire cities evac­u­ated, leav­ing their streets empty, the only mo­tion com­ing from ashes falling like snowflakes.

The AssoCiATed press

A fire­fighter ges­tures as he walks through thick smoke from a wild­fire Thurs­day, near Cal­is­toga, Calif.

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