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Missing in California are still considered 870 people: how to search

The list of missing persons after a massive fire in Northern California was reduced to 870 people.

Screenshot from video

However, many families are still desperate because they do not know about the fate of their loved ones, writes Time.

Relatives of 88-year-old Dorothy Lee Mack knew that her house in the city of Paradise (California) was destroyed by fire on November 8, but almost two weeks after that, they still didn’t know what happened to Mac.

The woman’s family said that there was complete confusion during her search. Last weekend, the Poppy was removed from the missing list for unknown reasons, and the family had to call the Butt County Sheriff's office to let them know that they had made a mistake. Earlier, law enforcement officers stated that errors are indeed possible, since a large number of missing people and a difficult situation sometimes cause difficulties in adjusting the list.

The family also received a false phone call from a man who claimed that Mack was found.

20 November relatives were told that an elderly woman was found dead in her house, on her social network page Facebook said the niece's husband Mac Stephen Paul.

Since the Camp fire began in California two weeks ago, it has burned 151 acres (373 ha) of land and killed at least 61 people, making it the deadliest fire in California. Firefighters managed to take control of 258% of the flame, they expect that the fire will be completely extinguished by 79 November.

It is extremely difficult to determine the exact number of missing persons due to the chaos after the fires and the extreme difficulty of searching for human remains in burnt houses. Many residents of Butt County fled in a hurry from the fire and are now in different parts of the state, and some do not have access to telephones and the Internet. The local sheriff’s office has to check and match all phone calls, emails, and other records to determine who they should look for.

Very long list

Determining the number of missing persons was a difficult task for the Bitt County Sheriff's office. As of November 20, 699 names were listed as missing, but the office forgot about voice mail, and after listening to messages on it, the list was expanded to 870 people.

The sheriff's office has repeatedly warned that the list is likely to contain duplicate names and spelling errors, as well as the names of people who are fine, but are not aware that someone can look for them. The list was compiled mainly from three sources: emergency calls during a fire, emails and calls after a fire, so some names can be repeated, because relatives could report the loss of one person using several sources.

The local sheriff urged members of the community to check the list to find out if there are any names in it and to inform their relatives of their whereabouts if someone is looking for them.

Residents of the region are scattered throughout the state.

Paradise resident Lisa Vazquez, who currently resides with her niece in the town of Grass Valley, spent the last two weeks trying to find out about the fate of her relatives, most of whom have lost their homes. The woman admitted that, running away from the fire, she managed to take only the most necessary things and did not think about informing her relatives, but now it has become a real problem.

According to Vasquez, in the past few weeks, she and many of her relatives have struggled to gain access to telephones, the Internet and electricity. Due to the fire, many residents of the region have lost access to the telephone fromcommunication and the Internet, through which they previously kept in touch with relatives. Vasquez received information about the fate of only one of her relatives, from a former son-in-law, who told her that his house had survived the fire and that he was all right.

“We are all very scattered. I have someone in Chico, there is someone in Oroville. I'm just glad that I stayed alive, ”the woman admitted.

Vasquez said she still could not muster the courage to see the list of the missing. She already knows that one of her neighbors, an elderly woman with serious health problems, died in the fire.

Slow search progress

Around 400, search and rescue personnel arrived at the site of the fire and are searching for human remains and survivors.

Search methods range from the most modern, such as drones filming burnt-out houses from above, which makes it possible to see if there are bodies, to long-proven and well-proven methods of searching through specially trained dogs, 24 such animals are working on the spot. Rescuers include a group of archaeologists from the University of California, Chico.

Scientists use various methods to identify corpses: DNA tests, teeth, and surgical implants.

But the difficulty lies in the fact that the wreckage of the burned houses cover many human remains. Therefore, archaeologists must clear the wreckage and carefully check everything that remains in place of the burnt down buildings, so as not to miss the human remains and be able to identify them.

However, due to the severity of the fire, there is still doubt as to whether all remains will be identified with absolute certainty, because strong fires can destroy almost everything, including the teeth that are most often used for identification. If the teeth are loose and very fragile, then they cannot be used to identify the person.

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