Number Missing in Fire Jumps Dramatically

Kitsap County firefighter injured while in California to help with Woolsey blaze

Kitsap County firefighter injured while in California to help with Woolsey blaze

The number of people listed as missing has skyrocketed past 600, authorities said on Thursday, as the remains of seven additional victims were found by rescuers.

The list of people unaccounted for in the Camp Fire rose dramatically from 297 to 631 Thursday-and while many of them may be people who failed to contact loved ones after evacuating, authorities fear the death toll is also going to jump.

The Camp Fire that's burning in Butte County is the deadliest wildfire in California state history. The Butte County disaster coincided with a flurry of smaller blazes in Southern California, including the Woolsey Fire, which has been linked with three fatalities and destroyed at least 500 structures in the mountains and foothills near the Malibu coast west of Los Angeles.

A few Northern California communities are moving to install sirens after some wine country residents complained they didn't receive warnings to evacuate ahead of a deadly wildfire in October 2017 that destroyed 5,300 homes.

"The fact that we have thousands and thousands of people in shelters would clearly indicate that we were able to notify a significant number of people", the sheriff said.

Denise Chester, an evacuee of the Camp Fire, hugs her son Antonio Batres as she volunteers sorting clothes at a makeshift shelter in Chico, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. "Some days there might be more people".

Home after home in the Northern California town was burned to its foundation by an unprecedented blaze, which has taken at least 56 lives.

"The chaos that we were dealing with was extraordinary", he said of the early crisis hours last week.

Sheriff Honea said the list may contain people who do not know they are considered lost.

"The reason that that number went up is because after they went up, [emergency officials] didn't stop working, they continued to work into the night", Honea said. One body in Paradise was found in a auto that had been flipped on its side.

Authorities developed an evacuation plan that split the town of 27,000 into zones and called for a staggered exodus.

The Camp Fire has destroyed more than 8,650 single family homes and 260 commercial buildings, Cal Fire said.

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