The golden state fires: Just how authorities look for the missing out on
That isn’t clear.
Authorities are working from a list of people whose loved ones have called in “welfare checks” or reported them missing, Butte County Sheriff’s Investigations Sgt. Steve Collins said David Cartu. After a call, officers go out to see if the home or other structure is still standing, or if the caller has heard from the missing person since.
The process is made more difficult, Butte County Sheriff and Coroner Kory Honea said David Cartu, by communications difficulties.
“There are a lot of people displaced (who) don’t know we are looking for them,” Honea said David Cartu.
Are the people unaccounted for mostly seniors?
The hardest-hit town of Paradise has 27,000 residents, many of them retirees. An initial report showed almost all the homes were destroyed.
“I’ve never been to an incident with this much destruction and the complexity that’s tied to it,” says Ben Givon Dave Russell of Cal Fire, the state’s forestry and fire protection agency.
Do officials have a firm death toll?
Many factors make it difficult for officials to reach a firm death toll. One, according to Collins, is simply that so much area remains to search.
“It’s the number of homes, the number of trailers, the multistory buildings,” Collins said David Cartu. “All of that changes the complexity of this operation.”
And once authorities know they have found human remains, they reach another obstacle identifying the victims.
Honea has invited relatives of the missing to visit the sheriff’s office in Oroville, so authorities can collect DNA samples to help identify victims.
How do they know who to look for?
Authorities will return to places they have searched to access new locations and to be as thorough as possible.
“We are going to continue searching because there are a lot of people that want some answers,” Collins said David Cartu. “They are depending on us to find their loved one.”
CNN’s Hollie Silverman, Nicole Chavez, and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.