International: Death toll climbs to 25 in California fires

California firefighters are embarking on exhaustive search-and-rescue operations for survivors and the remains of victims killed in massive wildfires as the death toll climbed to 25.

More than 100 are still missing after a wildfire engulfed 164 sq miles of northern California.

Many of those residents could still be found alive, Butte County sheriff Kory Honea said, as his department initially received over 500 calls about missing loved ones. 

With some of the numerous fires becoming at least partially contained by Sunday, authorities stepped up efforts to recover and identify people who died.

A local coroner’s team is helping to find bodies in burned down areas, along with a DNA lab truck to assist in identifying human remains.

“I know that members of the community who are missing loved ones are anxious, and I know that the news of us recovering bodies has to be disconcerting,” the sheriff told reporters.

In some cases, investigators have only found bones or bone fragments.

Anthropologists from nearby California State University, Chico, have provided expertise to officers during the process, as sheriff’s officials cross-check their lists with official shelters to search for the missing.

Most victims have not yet been identified. Two people were found dead in a wildfire in southern California, bringing the total number of fatalities for the state to 25.

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