Rain to bring more misery for Camp Fire evacuees

In one day, the number of people unaccounted for in Northern California’s Camp Fire fell by 307 while the death toll increased by two, authorities said.

Nearly two weeks after the Golden State’s deadliest and most destructive fire began, 563 people are still unaccounted for, Butte County Sheriff and Coroner Kory Honea said. Authorities started with a list of roughly 2,052 people and worked around the clock to identify the dead and account for survivors so they can focus on getting people back into their homes, he said.

News of two more deaths brought the total number of people killed in the Camp Fire to 83. Of the 83 sets of recovered remains, 58 of them have been tentatively identified, Honea said. He identified six people by name in Wednesday’s news conference.

The updated figures come as Northern California contends with much-needed precipitation that could also bring flash floods and mudslides to towns charred by the devastating Camp Fire.

Almost 1 million people are under flash flood watch in that part of California, where 4 to 6 inches of rain are expected to fall through Friday. Rain began in Paradise late Wednesday morning, dropping nearly an inch by late afternoon.

The potential downpours could put an end to the fire season or at least ease the fire risk while also bringing new dangers.

“Rapidly rising water could flood roads, hampering search efforts and putting displaced residents camping outdoors in peril,” CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said.

With the heavy rain on the way, search teams were racing to find human remains, evacuees debated fleeing again and firefighters rushed to remove downed trees and unneeded equipment.

Search for missing to be ‘much more difficult’

The first bout of heavy rain is expected to hit Butte County. The heaviest amounts will come Thursday afternoon through Friday afternoon, with between 2.5 and 4 inches expected during that 24-hour period.

When the rain comes, “It’s going to consolidate the material and make it more dense. And it’s going to present much more like soil. So anything we find or hope to find that’s still there, it’s going to make a difficult task … that much more difficult,” said Brian Ferreira, rescue squad officer for