Missing in California fire over 1,000

November 17, 2018
Rescue workers
Rescue workers

PARADISE, United States -- The number of people listed as missing in a devastating northern California wildfire soared past 1,000 on Friday as the remains of eight additional victims were found by rescuers.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told reporters that the number of people unaccounted for had jumped from 631 to 1,011 in the last 24 hours as authorities receive more reports of people missing and as emergency calls made when the fire broke out are reviewed.

"I want you to understand that this is a dynamic list," he told reporters. He said that on a positive note, 329 people who had been listed as missing since the fire broke out had so far been accounted for.

"The information I am providing you is raw data and we find there is the likely possibility that the list contains duplicate names," he said, adding that some people who had escaped may also be unaware that they have been listed as missing.

The eight additional sets of human remains found bring to 71 the total number of dead from the so-called Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive in California history.

'Forest mismanagement to blame'

The inferno erupted November 8, laying waste to the town of Paradise at the northern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and sending thousands fleeing.

President Donald Trump was set to visit the region on Saturday to survey the damage and meet victims of the fire that has devoured an area roughly the size of Chicago.

In an interview with Fox News ahead of his visit, Trump doubled-down on his earlier claim that mismanagement of California's forests was to blame for the fires. But he acknowledged that climate change may have contributed "a little bit" to the wildfires.

"You need forest management. It has to be," Trump told Fox. "I'm not saying that in a negative way, a positive -- I'm just saying the facts."

Authorities said the Camp Fire has burned 146,000 acres (59,000 hectares) and was 50 percent contained Friday.

They added that 47,200 people had been evacuated because of the fire and nearly 1,200 were living in shelters.

Poor air quality

Smoke from the fire forced the closure of public schools in San Francisco on Friday and the shutdown of the city's iconic cable cars as the Air Quality Index soared to 271, comparable to Dhaka, Bangladesh and worse than Kolkata, India.

"San Francisco's air quality has moved from red or 'unhealthy' to purple or 'very unhealthy' due to local wildfires and weather patterns," the SFMTA transport authority said on its website.

"The Department of Public Health highly recommends that everyone stay indoors and avoid exposure to the outside air."