As the death toll in the deadliest forest fires in California's history continues, the Sheriff of the Northern California District, where the fire is still raging, said Friday that more than 1,000 people were missing, an astounding one Increase over previous lists. 19659002] By Friday, 71 people had been confirmed dead in the fire, which swept through the city of Paradise and the surrounding areas on 8 November. About 500 specialists and more than 20 carcass dogs comb the burnt hills and the gutters of the forest community for human remains.
The new list of missing persons, who surprised even officials who were watching the devastation and expected the worst, raises questions about who is on the list and how it was created.
Butte County Sheriff Kory L. Honea said his staff changed the list by adding every person reported missing on every 911 call they have received since the start of the fire, including during the 911 call panic moments when the fire broke First, it was about the area.
"I give you the best information I have now," the sheriff said. "We will not wait for progress to hinder progress."
The sheriff said on Friday that officials accounted for about 330 people on a previous list of people who were not billed, but the number rose on Friday more and more were added.
"This is a dynamic list," Sheriff Honea said. "It will fluctuate up and down every day."
Why are people put on the list if the sheriff is not sure if they are actually missing?
This list contains people who may not know you were reported as missing. Sheriff Honea said he hoped that people who were safe and wrongly considered missing would review the list and call the sheriff's office.
"We find that there are many people who do not know we are looking for them," the sheriff said. "That's why we're publishing this list."
Is there a pattern among those listed as missing?
Many are older. Of the 246 persons for whom the age was stated, more than 200 were over 60 years old. The youngest person on the list is 20 and the oldest is 101.
Eric Reinbold, police chief of Paradise, the city most affected by the fire, said the new list of how many older people have been trapped by the fire could be.
"Like every community, we had older people, and some of them gave up driving or could not drive," Chief Reinbold said. "There are a number of reasons why people are unable to evacuate on their own."
How reliable is the list?
Like the escape from the fire itself, the search for the missing was sometimes chaotic. An earlier list published by the Sheriff's Office included five people, 119 years of age. The five are still on the list of missing persons, but their age has been removed. At least five names are listed twice, and there are question marks next to some people.
Was anyone found on the list?
A search through Facebook seems to be at least a dozen persons who have survived the fire are on the missing list.
David and Frances Neil are listed as missing on the Butte County list, but the couple's daughter-in-law, Domonique Neil, said they are "safe and secure".
When contacted by the New York Times, Ms. Neil said she did not know the couple was on the Butte County list. "There are many lists," she said. "It's hard to keep track."
The experience that the Neil family and others have erroneously reported as missing highlights a potential shortcoming of the system: those who are safe have no incentive to list to check and help with the correction.
Do the officials have estimates how the final number of dead could look like?
California has never seen such a fire. Law enforcement officials are reluctant to guess.
Chief Reinbold said he has no way to predict the final numbers. But he prays that there are nowhere near hundreds of people on the list: "Nobody wants that number to be that high."