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Rain could hamper search for California fire victims

by Kiley Crossland
Posted 11/21/18, 12:05 pm

Rain is falling Wednesday in fire-scorched areas of Northern California, bringing aid to firefighters but complicating efforts to recover human remains. About 870 people are still unaccounted for after the Camp Fire killed at least 81 and destroyed more than 13,000 homes in the region nearly two weeks ago. Authorities are using rapid DNA testing to identify bone fragments and other remains by matching them to genetic material provided by relatives of the missing. “The task is arduous,” said Rick Crawford with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “And the possibility exists that some people may never be found.” So far only about 60 people have provided samples to pop-up labs in Oroville and Chico. A spokeswoman for the DNA testing company said they need hundreds more samples to help identify remains. Officials said conflicting information, travel difficulties, and mistrust of the government may contribute to the low number of DNA sample volunteers.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the area on Wednesday, saying brief bouts of heavy rain could unleash mudslides. The Camp Fire was 75 percent contained as of Tuesday and had burned nearly 238 square miles.

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Kiley Crossland

Kiley reports on marriage, family, and sexuality for WORLD Digital. Follow Kiley on Twitter @KileyCrossland.

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