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Death toll in Northern California wildfire grows to 71, as search continues

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Image: California Town Of Paradise Devastated By The Camp Fire Continues Se
Rescue workers search an area where they discovered suspected human remains in a home destroyed by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California on November 16, 2018. -
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Searchers combing through the ruins of the deadliest wildfire in California history found eight more bodies Friday, bringing the number of dead in the Camp Fire to 71 as more than 1,000 people remained unaccounted for.

Seven of the eight bodies were found in the town of Paradise, which was all but destroyed in the fire that broke out Nov. 8, and the other was in Magalia, north of Paradise, said Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory L. Honea said. All were found inside structures.

Honea cautioned that the number of unaccounted for — 1,011 as of Friday night — could include names that are duplicates or have different spelling variations, and that investigators were working to verify them.

"I can't let perfection get in the way of progress," Honea said. "It's important for us to get the information out so that we can get started on identifying these unaccounted individuals."

The increasing death toll in the Camp Fire in Butte County, north of Sacramento, brought the total number of deaths in two wildfires in the state to at least 74. Three deaths have been reported in the Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles.

The Camp Fire has displaced thousands of people and led to the evacuation of some 52,000 at the fire's peak. About 47,200 remained evacuated Friday, officials said. The fire has burned 146,000 acres and was 50 percent contained Friday.

The Camp Fire is considered the most destructive wildfire in recorded state history, eclipsing the 2017 Tubbs Fire, which destroyed 5,636 structures, according to Cal Fire.

It is also the deadliest. The 1933 Griffith Park Fire killed 29 people.

The Camp Fire was one of two major wildfires burning at opposite ends of the state. The Woolsey Fire has burned more than 98,000 acres and destroyed at least 616 homes. It was 69 percent contained Friday. It had prompted evacuation orders covering more than 200,000 people.

A search and rescue dog searches for human remains at the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif on Nov. 16, 2018.
A search and rescue dog searches for human remains at the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif on Nov. 16, 2018.John Locher

President Donald Trump is scheduled to travel to California on Saturday where he will meet with those impacted by the wildfires, the White House said. The president has signed a major disaster and emergency declaration, which provides federal aid.

Another fire, the Hill Fire which broke out in Ventura County on the afternoon of Nov. 8 and burned more than 4,500 acres and destroyed four structures, is 100 percent contained.

Fire officials said all possible causes besides human activity have been ruled out in that fire, and authorities have announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to anyone responsible for the wildfires.

The Hill Fire prompted evacuation orders for around 1,200 people as it raged last week, Cal Fire has said.