Death toll rises to 56 in Northern California's Camp Fire

Homes leveled by the Camp Fire line a development on Paradise, California, on Nov. Monday. Copyright Noah Berger AP
By Alex Johnson and Vivian Kim with NBC News U.S. News
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Authorities released a list of 101 people still unaccounted for — and they said that's only a partial list.


Authorities made public a list of 101 people still unaccounted for as officials said the death toll in the deadliest wildfire in California history had grown to 56 Wednesday night.

Butte County sheriff's officials warned that the list of 101 missing people (PDF) was only partial, saying they would release a more complete list later.

Eight more sets of human remains were found, the sheriff's office said Wednesday, and 7,600 homes have been destroyed since the Camp Fire ignited last Thursday morning. The fire had consumed 135,000 acres by Wednesday night and remained only 35 percent contained.

"We'll be here for several years working this disaster," Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said at a news conference after he toured Paradise with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and California Gov. Jerry Brown.

"This is going to be a very long, a frustrating event for the citizens of Paradise," said Long, who added it would be reasonable for residents to conclude that rebuilding the city isn't worth it.

"The infrastructure is basically a total rebuild at this point," he said. "You're not going to be able to rebuild Paradise the way it was."

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Brown described the scene as a "war zone," saying, "This is so devastating that I don't really have the words to describe it."

Brown said President Donald Trump, with whom he has often clashed, called him on Wednesday to offer his full support.

"We're in a different kind of world, we know that," he said. "We're in for very difficult times. It'll never be the same. But I can assure you that everyone in California is going to do their best."

Zinke, meanwhile, called the devastation the worst wildfire damage that he had ever seen, calling for new policies and plans to avert a repeat.

"This is unacceptable year after year after year," he said.

Officials haven't yet determined the cause of the fire, but Pacific Gas and Electric, or PG&E, said in a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that its equipment may have sparked the blaze. It said it might not have enough insurance to cover the expected cost of the damage.


A spokesperson for PG&E stressed Wednesday that the cause still hadn't officially been pinpointed. But the spokesperson said the company has filed an incident report with the state Public Utilities Commission.

"The information provided in this report is preliminary, and PG&E will fully cooperate with any investigations," the spokesperson said.

PG&E stock closed down by 21.79 percent on Wednesday after a group of Northern California fire lawyers sued in state Superior Court alleging that PG&E failed to properly maintain, repair and replace its equipment and that "its inexcusable behavior contributed to the cause of the 'Camp Fire.'"

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