The Camp Fire took just over 24 hours to destroy entire communities in Butte County. Now, the process of assessing the damage, and loss of life, is coming along slowly but surely.
Officials recovered the remains of six more victims on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 48 as hundreds remain missing (see the list of missing persons here). About 8,800 structures were burned in Paradise, Magalia and Concow, and sifting through the ash and rubble has been difficult as firefighters continue to fight the flames. The fire currently sits at 135,000 acres burned and 35 percent containment.
— Carin Dorghalli (@CarinDorghalli) November 14, 2018
Since its devastation of Paradise, the fire has moved south towards Oroville, even dipping its toes in Lake Oroville. The high winds have slowed, giving firefighters an opportunity to increase containment on the blaze. Fire officials believe the fire won’t be fully contained until late-November.
Meanwhile, a humanitarian crisis is taking place in Butte County. Nearly 50,000 people remain displaced from their homes, many with their homes destroyed, and a large portion are staying in evacuation shelters, but the space is becoming limited. Many have taken to camping parking lots in what some have described as looking like “refugee camps”.
This is the scene tonight under chilly smoke filled skies at the Walmart in Chico. A #campfire refuge camp. As the editor of the @ChicoER already said: this is a humanitarian crisis. pic.twitter.com/LhQUwtvygo
— Ryan Sabalow (@RyanSabalow) November 14, 2018
AirBnB has opened its rentals to the victims, but price gouging is a growing concern when the dust settles. Most of the 27,000 people in Paradise lost their homes, and resettling the population will be long and arduous. Reports of price gouging in house rentals and hotels have been prevalent in the past year in fire zones.
People continue to take to the internet to find their loved ones missing in the flames. And although it is believed the death toll will climb as recovery efforts continue in Paradise, it’s possible that people who don’t have access to technology just don’t know they are on the missing persons list.
In one case on Twitter, a man had responded to the missing person’s list by saying “My parents are on it. They’ve been relaxing in Williams this whole time.”
My parents are on it. They've been relaxing in Williams this whole time.
— Glennui (@glenncanon) November 14, 2018
The hope remains that many of the hundreds of missing people have resettled somewhere else. But the reality is that the death toll will most likely grow in the coming days. The deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history may just continue to increase its numbers in the record books.