Satellite images show how the Camp Fire destroyed nearly 12,000 homes in Paradise, California.
The death toll in the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century is holding steady at 88.
After nearly three grueling weeks, officials leading recovery efforts at the Camp Fire anticipated lifting evacuation orders in some areas and announced Wednesday no new fatalities for the third night in a row.
Barring weather and unforeseen circumstances, residents may be able to reenter eight evacuation zones in Northern California, including the town of Paradise, by early next week.
“I have a high degree of confidence in the searches that were done,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a press conference. “I believe that we have done our due diligence in regards to searching for human remains. My sincere hope is that no additional human remains will be located.”
Of the 88 fatalities, 35 have been positively identified and another 47 tentatively identified, officials said. Crews have searched through all locations with higher probability for human remains and all structures with a possibility of containing human remains, Honea said. They are no longer actively searching.
If people find bone fragments when returning to neighborhoods, however, Honea said they should not disturb the area and call authorities for potential identification.
The number of unaccounted for went up to 196 people, an increase from 158 Tuesday, because the backlog has been cleared.
The Camp Fire was contained Sunday within 153,336 acres, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. Starting in the Sierra Nevada foothills on Nov. 8, the fire destroyed 18,793 structures, including 13,972 residences. The retirement town of Paradise, population 27,000, was leveled by the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.
Cal Fire is still investigating what caused the fire, but utility company Pacific Gas & Electric has faced scrutiny after reporting two power outages around the time the fire started.
Contributing: Associated Press
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