Nov. 18 (UPI) — Officials in California fear the already historic death toll from the Camp Fire could increase, as more than 1,200 people remain unaccounted for.
A total of 76 people have already died in the blaze burning in Butte County near the northern portion of the state, making it the most deadly fire in the state’s history, according to Cal Fire.
The deadly fire has burned 149,500 acres and destroyed 9,700 residences, 367 commercial structures and 2,528 other buildings, as fire crews have reached 60 percent containment, although it likely won’t be fully contained until Nov. 30.
“It is overwhelming, I don’t have any word to describe it,” Butte County Sheriff and Coroner Kory Honea said, according to CNN. “This is unprecedented. No one has had to deal with this magnitude that caused so much destruction and regrettably so much death.”
Honea said the number of people missing, which has increased rapidly in the 10 days since the fire began, is based on raw data collected through phone calls, emails and the 911 system.
“It’s not perfect data, but our thought process is that it’s better to get that information out to help start getting people accounted for. So rather than wait for perfection, we’re trying to get some progress going,” he said.
He added that hundreds of deputies, National Guard troops, coroners and anthropologists have been searching through the debris of destroyed cars and homes for survivors and remains, but the search efforts have been complicated by a lack of awareness.
“There are a lot of people displaced, and we’re finding that a lot of people don’t know that we’re looking for them,” said Honea.
The Woolsey fire, the second largest fire currently burning in the state, had burned 96,949 acres and was 88 percent contained as of Sunday morning, Cal Fire said.
Three people have been killed and 1,130 structures have been destroyed in that blaze.