California Camp Fire Death Toll Reaches 81, Fire Authorities Say

The death toll as a result of the Camp Fire in northern California now stands at 81, after state fire authorities said that two more sets of human remains were found Tuesday.

There was no mention of the number of people still listed as unaccounted for. On Monday, the number was 699.

The Camp Fire has burned more than 152,000 acres and is 75 percent contained, according the latest Cal Fire incident update. The blaze, California's deadliest and most destructive, has destroyed 12,637 residences, as well as 483 commercial structures and 3,718 other buildings. Nearly 4,000 firefighters are fighting the blaze.

According to the update:

"Established containment lines continue to hold while firefighters work to strengthen and improve control lines around the remainder of the fire perimeter. Crews have accelerated suppression repair efforts in advance of the expected rain."

That forecast of rain is welcome news for fire-fighting efforts. But it would also complicate the search for human remains by potentially washing away evidence of bodies of fire victims still listed as missing.

As NPR's Leila Fadel reports, the city of Paradise that was largely destroyed by the fire is preparing for dozens of funerals.

"Eric Smith has a list in the leather-bound portfolio he carries around with him. It's the list of the families waiting to bury their loved one when the bodies are released from the Coroner's office.

"He manages the Scheer Memorial Chapel in Oroville and the Rose Chapel Mortuary and Crematory in neighboring Paradise, California, which miraculously still stands.


"We don't know how long it'll be. I mean they'll be still people on the missing list probably it will never be found. So people are calling trying to find out. People want to know. They want to know if a person has been identified. If we know if they've been identified."

In southern California, the Woolsey fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties has burned almost 97,000 acres and is 96 percent contained. Three people died in that fire.

Taken together, the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire have claimed a total of 84 lives.

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