Con­fu­sion, vary­ing re­sponses over wild­fire miss­ing

Manteca Bulletin - - State -

Hun­dreds of peo­ple are still listed as miss­ing four days af­ter wild­fires ig­nited and zipped through Cal­i­for­nia wine coun­try, and the search for them has been marked by con­fu­sion and re­sponses that dif­fer dra­mat­i­cally by area.

Au­thor­i­ties in hard-hit Sonoma County are search­ing for those re­ported miss­ing by fam­ily and friends, but many of them live in fire zones that can’t be ac­cessed as the flames rage largely out of con­trol.

The wild­fires rip­ping through North­ern Cal­i­for­nia have killed more than two dozen peo­ple and burned thou­sands of homes and busi­nesses.

About 400 peo­ple are listed as miss­ing, Sonoma County Sher­iff Robert Gior­dano said Thurs­day, although those num­bers may in­clude du­pli­cates or peo­ple who are ac­tu­ally safe. His depart­ment has more than 20 de­tec­tives and other per­son­nel work­ing most of each day to in­ves­ti­gate the re­ports.

He also has held sev­eral press con­fer­ences a day to up­date the num­bers of re­ported miss­ing.

Napa County Sher­iff John Robert­son, on the other hand, has urged peo­ple to mark them­selves as “safe” on an Amer­i­can Red Cross web­site so fam­ily and friends won’t worry. His agency isn’t re­leas­ing the num­ber of miss­ing re­ported.

With au­thor­i­ties fo­cused on get­ting peo­ple out of the way of flames much of this week, friends and rel­a­tives des­per­ate for news turned to so­cial me­dia for help and checked shel­ters and hospi­tals in per­son. Oth­ers wor­ried from afar.

A Utah wo­man is puz­zled that it ap­pears her mother safely evac­u­ated her Santa Rosa house on Tues­day but has not been heard from since. Sher­iff’s deputies on Wed­nes­day vis­ited the home of Norma Zarr, 61, find­ing no dam­age and her sil­ver Honda CRV gone.

“I don’t know if she’s un­der a rock or if she’s OK,” Char­lene Bau­munk Allen said. “This is a try­ing time.”

Jean­nette Scrog­gins, on the other hand, re­ceived the worst news pos­si­ble. Sher­iff’s deputies found the body of her aunt Karen Aycock, 54, on Thurs­day.

Aycock’s fam­ily has been look­ing for her since Mon­day when her home in Santa Rosa was de­stroyed, Scrog­gins said. Deputies pre­vented fam­ily mem­bers from search­ing Aycock’s house be­cause of fire dan­ger.

Scrog­gins says her aunt lived with seven to 10 cats and her body was found near a bath­room in the back of the home.


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