Search­ing for re­mains in Calif. ashes

31 fa­tal­i­ties make string of fires state’s dead­li­est

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - NATION - By Ellen Knickmeyer and Jo­ce­lyn Gecker The As­so­ci­ated Press

SONOMA, Calif. — Teams with ca­daver dogs be­gan a grim search Thurs­day for more dead in parts of Cal­i­for­nia wine coun­try dev­as­tated by wild­fires, re­sort­ing in some cases to se­rial num­bers stamped on med­i­cal im­plants to iden­tify re­mains that turned up in the charred ru­ins.

New deaths con­firmed Thurs­day took the toll to 31, mak­ing this the dead­li­est week of wild­fires in Cal­i­for­nia his­tory.

Many of the flames still burned out of con­trol, and the fires grew to more than 300 square miles, an area as large as New York City.

Sonoma and Napa coun­ties en­dured a fourth day of chok­ing smoke while many res­i­dents fled to shel­ters or camped out on beaches to await word on their homes and loved ones.

A fore­cast for gusty winds and dry air threat­ened to fan the fires fur­ther.

Some of the state’s most his­toric tourist sites, in­clud­ing Sonoma city and Cal­is­toga in Napa Val­ley, were ghost towns pop­u­lated only by fire crews try­ing to stop the ad­vanc­ing in­fer­nos.

Sonoma County Sher­iff Robert Gior­dano said of­fi­cials were still in­ves­ti­gat­ing hun­dreds of re­ports of miss­ing peo­ple and that re­cov­ery teams would be­gin con­duct­ing “tar­geted searches” for spe­cific res­i­dents at their last known ad­dresses.

“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 un­cov­ered in the scorched heaps that were once homes. Metal im­plants, such as ar­ti­fi­cial hips, have ID num­bers that helped put names to vic­tims, he said.

Most of the fires, and the deaths, were in the coastal re­gion north of San Fran­cisco that en­com­passes wine coun­try. Four deaths came fur­ther in­land in Yuba County.

Fire­fight­ers had re­ported mod­est gains against the blazes, but con­tain­ment seemed nowhere in sight.

“We are not out of this emer­gency. We are not even close to be­ing out of this emer­gency,” Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor Mark Ghi­lar­ducci told a news con­fer­ence.

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

Jae C. Hong

The As­so­ci­ated Press Fire­fight­ers put out a hot spot from a wild­fire Thurs­day near Cal­is­toga, Calif. The fires have killed at least 31 peo­ple, mak­ing it the state’s dead­li­est string of fires in its his­tory.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.