By Thomas Fuller
New York Times News Service
PARADISE, Calif. — Search teams were scouring the devastated town of Paradise on Tuesday with the grim expectation of finding more bodies in the aftermath of the deadliest wildfire in California history.
Finding remains is a painstaking process that is often guided by cadaver dogs after an intense fire like the one that struck Paradise and surrounding areas, where 48 people have been killed, about 200 are still missing and much is reduced to ashes. Coroners and dozens of other searchers have fanned out across the area, and two portable morgues are waiting to collect the dead.
The Camp Fire, as the blaze that ripped through Paradise is known, is only about 35 percent contained, and has burned 130,000 acres. It continues to rage in the hills and ravines east of the city of Chico.
It is also the most destructive wildfire in California history, with more than 8,800 structures destroyed, most of them homes.
On Tuesday night, Sheriff Kory L. Honea of Butte County announced that the remains of six more people have been discovered, increasing the death toll from the Camp Fire to 48.
Two other wildfires also continue to burn in Southern California. Two people have died in the Woolsey Fire, which is burning west of Los Angeles and has swept through parts of Malibu. The fire is 35 percent contained and has charred more than 96,000 acres, but firefighters believed they were “getting the upper hand.”
A third fire, the Hill Fire in Ventura County, has been kept to about 4,500 acres and is 90 percent contained.
With winds gusting up to 86 mph in San Diego County on Tuesday and a red-flag fire warning in effect, a utility company turned off electric power in some areas, and at least five school districts canceled classes. Around 25,000 customers in the county were without power, either from precautionary shutdowns or from losses caused by heavy winds.