By Tuesday evening, the Camp Fire, which started in the early morning hours of November 8 in Butte County, had claimed 81 lives, according to the Butte County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO). By this morning, 153,336 acres—nearly 240 square miles—had burned, according to the incident information page of Cal Fire, the colloquial name for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the state agency that responds to more than 5,600 wildland fires a year, according to its website. So far, almost 870 people are on the missing persons list, as published by the BCSO, and over 13,500 homes had been destroyed. It is the deadliest and most destructive fire in California state history, as reported by The San Francisco Chronicle.
The fire, which remains an active one, has been 80 percent contained, and nearly 4,000 firefighters are deployed, according to Cal Fire. While some firefighters continue to battle the flames, other teams of firefighters from all around California—including from Oakland’s fire department—are working to sort through the rubble of what used to be people’s homes in search of human or animal remains. The grim task is just beginning for the California Task Force (CATF-4) Urban Search and Rescue team—they’ll likely be out here still searching for several days, if not weeks, they said.
Light rain falling on Northern California Wednesday morning could potentially hamper first responders’ efforts to locate human remains, as reported by the Associated Press, but could also assist those firefighters still actively working to contain the blaze.
Oakland Fire Department Deputy Chief Nicholas Luby said that his department had deployed at least 12 firefighters to the incident, although the need for personnel is greater. Luby said his department did not have the capacity to staff both his department and to fulfill the need for personnel at the incident. (Oakland firefighters also deployed to last year’s severe Napa fires, as reported by Oakland North.)
Veteran firefighters from CATF-4 said that they had not seen anything on the scale of the Camp Fire before. Some said they are now afraid that fires of such large magnitude have become routine.