U.S.

Camp Fire Death Toll Now at 23 Officials Say In Latest Updates

The remains of 14 people were discovered on Saturday in the aftermath of the Camp Fire bringing the death toll to 23, officials said.

In a Saturday evening press conference, the Butte County Sheriff's Office stated that 10 of the victims were discovered in Paradise, a town of 26,000 residents that was decimated by the fire in a matter of hours on Thursday. Those 10 individuals joined nine  bodies discovered on Friday.

Seven of the bodies were found in homes, with three others located outside of homes. The four bodies remaining were found outside of Paradise in a nearby community.

"I know that members of our community who are missing loved ones are anxious, and I know that the news of us recovering bodies has to be disconcerting," Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory Honea said. "I will tell you that we are doing everything we possibly can to identify those remains and make contact with the next of kin so that we can return remains to the family. My heart goes out to those people. I will tell you that this weighs heavy on all of us, myself and especially those staff members who are out there doing important work, but certainly difficult work.”

Four coroner's search teams have been searching for remains with a fifth team being called in to assist beginning on Sunday. Anthropologists from California State University's Chico campus are also assisting in analyzing any bones or bone fragments found by search teams.

Honea said that 508 reports of missing persons have been taken since Thursday, though the sherriff's office has narrowed that list down to 110 people.

Attempts to locate those individuals are still ongoing, though the Department of Justice has brought a DNA lab truck to the area so that families can provide DNA samples to be crosschecked with any discovered remains.

As of Saturday evening, the Camp Fire had burned 105,000 acres - or 164 square miles - and destroyed an estimated 6,713 structures. Approximately 52,000 people have been evacuated from the fire, with additional evacuations issued for the communities of Berry Creek, Brush Creek, Mountain House and Bloomer Hill.

While the strong winds that helped fuel the fire calmed on Saturday, a red flag warning will go into effect for the area at 10 p.m. local time and last until 7 a.m. Monday. With a red flag warning, conditions are critical for fires and can lead to extreme fire behavior.

Wind gusts could reach up to 50 mph in higher elevations and 30 mph for lower elevations, the National Weather Service said.

With the changing weather in mind, officials warned residents in Oroville, a town approximately 25 miles from Paradise, to remain viliglant and regularly check the Butte County and Cal Fire social media pages for any additional news or evacuations.

Officials said that while the fire was 20 percent contained, the worry is that the wind will pick up and that the blaze might jump Lake Oroville and head into Oroville's city limits.

The town is home to approximately 19,000 people.

The Camp Fire is now the most destructive fire in California history and the third-deadliest.

The cause of the fire remains unknown, despite President Donald Trump tweeting on Saturday that he might withold federal aid for California due to “gross mismanagement of the forests."

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