Dogs used to search for bodies in wildfi res

The Columbus Dispatch - - Nation&world - By Ellen Knickmeyer and Jo­ce­lyn Gecker

SONOMA, Calif. — Teams with ca­daver dogs be­gan a grim search Thurs­day for more bodies 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.

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, and many res­i­dents fled to shel­ters or camped out on beaches to await word on their homes and loved ones.

The fires have claimed 31 vic­tims and were fast be­com­ing the dead­li­est and most de­struc­tive in Cal­i­for­nia his­tory.

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.

Cal­is­toga, known for wine tast­ings and hot springs, had dozens of fire­fight­ers set up at street cor­ners. Ash rained down from the sky, and a thick haze cov­ered the ground. Mayor Chris Can­ning warned that the fires were draw­ing closer and that all of the city’s 5,000 res­i­dents needed to heed an evac­u­a­tion or­der.

“This is a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion. Your pres­ence in Cal­is­toga is not wel­come if you are not a first re­spon­der,” Can­ning said dur­ing a news briefing, ex­plain­ing that fire­fight­ers have no time to save peo­ple.

A few res­i­dents left be­hind cook­ies for fire crews with signs read­ing, “Please save our home!”

The wild­fires claimed the home of “Peanuts” cre­ator Charles Schulz and all its mem­o­ra­bilia, but his widow has es­caped. Schulz’s son Monte Schulz said a fire on Mon­day torched the Santa Rosa homes of his step­mother, 78-year-old Jean Schulz, and his brother, Craig Schulz.

Most of his fa­ther’s orig­i­nal art­work is in the Charles M. Schulz Mu­seum in Santa Rosa, and that has not been dam­aged.

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