Deadliest fire reduces California town to ash and charred rubble; over 60 dead, 600 missing

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PARADISE, California: Family members and survivors on Friday sought news of the 630 people considered missing after the deadliest wildfire in California history reduced much of the town of Paradise to ash and charred rubble, and killed 63. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, said the blaze, named the Camp Fire, was now 45 percent contained, up from 35 percent on Thursday, even though it had grown slightly to 142,000 acres (57,000 hectares).

With nearly 12,000 homes and buildings burned, refugees from the fire have taken up residence in tents or their vehicles and filled evacuation centres to overflowing. Search teams, meanwhile, are in burned-out areas looking for bodies – or anything else that might carry human DNA for identification purposes.

Cal Fire said the Camp Fire death toll held at 63 overnight, but Miranda Bowersox, spokeswoman for the Butte County Sheriff`s office, warned the number of missing people would fluctuate.
“The overall number will go down but in the short term we expect will see new reports of people missing,” she said.

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