Search for hundreds listed as missing in California wildfires

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With 63 people confirmed dead in the northern California wildfire, authorities tried to whittle down a list of the missing more than 600 names long.

They were hoping many of them got out safely in the chaos over a week ago.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, will travel to the disaster zone on Saturday to get a look at the grief and damage from the deadliest US wildfire in a century and could encounter locals resentful over his suggestion California is to blame for its misfortune.

The list probably includes some who fled the blaze and do not realise they have been reported missing, Sheriff Kory Honea said.

Some on the list have been confirmed as dead by family and friends on social media.

Others have been located and are safe, but authorities have not got around to marking them as found.

California Wildfires
Investigators recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp Fire in Magalia (John Locher/AP)

“My husband and I are not missing and never were!” Ms Conry wrote on Facebook.

“We have no family looking for us. … I called and left a message to take our names off.”

Authorities compiled the list by going back to listen to all the dispatch calls they received since the fire started, to make sure they did not miss anyone.

In last year’s catastrophic wildfires in California wine country, Sonoma County authorities at one point listed more than 2,000 people as missing.

But they slowly whittled down the number.

In the end, 44 people died in several counties.

The wildfire this time practically burned the town of Paradise to the ground and heavily damaged the outlying communities of Magalia and Concow on November 8, destroying 9,700 houses and 144 apartment buildings, authorities said.

California Wildfires
Gloves rest in a scorched car (Noah Berger/AP)

Crews managed stop it from spreading toward Oroville, population 19,000.

This patch of California, a former Gold Rush region in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is to some extent Trump country, with Trump beating Hillary Clinton in Butte County by four percentage points in 2016.

But some survivors resent that Mr Trump went on Twitter two days after the disaster to blame the wildfires on forest mismanagement and threaten to withhold federal payments from California.

“If you insult people, then you go visit them, how do you think you’re going to be accepted? You’re not going to have a parade,” said Maggie Crowder of Magalia as she stood in a queue outside a shopping centre in Chico where government agencies set up an assistance centre.

But Joe Estes, a 26-year-old salesman from Magalia who voted for Mr Trump, said he feels good about the president’s visit and hopes it will focus attention on the need to rebuild.

“I think he should come, and hopefully help people and not put everybody down,” he said.

More than 450 searchers continued looking for human remains in the ashes.

Some 27,000 people, many of them retirees, lived in Paradise.

Around 52,000 people have been driven out and have gone to shelters, motels, the homes of friends and relatives, and a Walmart parking lot and an adjacent field in Chico, a dozen miles from Paradise.

With winter coming on, survivors are seeking answers on what assistance will be provided.

At the Walmart encampment, Richard Wilson, 68, sought information from the Federal Emergency management Agency about lodging.

His wife is nearly bedridden from lupus and fibromyalgia.

Northern California Wildfire
A couple wear masks while walking at Fisherman’s Wharf through smoke and haze from wildfires (Eric Risberg/AP)

Stacy Lazzarino, who voted for Mr Trump, said she thinks it would be good for the president to see the devastation up close.

“I think by maybe seeing it he’s going to be like ‘Oh my goodness,’ and it might start opening people’s eyes,” she said.

In fire-stricken southern California, meanwhile, more residents were being allowed back in their homes near Los Angeles after a blaze torched an area the size of Denver and destroyed more than 600 homes and other structures.

The blaze was 69% contained, authorities said.

At least three deaths were reported.

Schools across a large swathe of the state were closed because of smoke, and San Francisco’s world-famous open-air cable cars were pulled off the streets.

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