Death toll in California rises to 76; evacuees, relations urged to review list of 1,300 unaccounted for

President Donald Trump talks to Mayor Jody Jones as he visits a neighborhood impacted by the wildfires, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Paradise, California | Photo by Evan Vucci via the Associated Press, St. George News

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — Northern California crews battling the country’s deadliest wildfire in a century were bracing for strong winds Sunday that could erode gains they have made in containing the fearsome blaze, which has killed at least 76 and leveled a town.

Even as hundreds of searchers sift through the rubble in the town of Paradise looking for the dead, nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire sparked in Butte County, Sheriff Kory Honea announced Saturday night. Authorities stressed that the long roster does not mean they believe all those people are missing.

Honea pleaded with fire evacuees Saturday to review the list of those reported as unreachable by family and friends and call if they are safe. Deputies have located hundreds of people to date, but the overall number keeps growing because they are adding more names, including those from the disaster’s chaotic early hours, Honea said.

It’s really very important for you to take a look at the list and call us if you’re on the list,” he said.

The remains of five more people were found Saturday, including four in the decimated town of Paradise and one in nearby Concow, bringing the number of dead to 76.

Among the dead was Lolene Rios, 56, whose son Jed tearfully told KXTV in Sacramento that his mother had “endless amount of love for me.”

Residents wave to the motorcade during President Donald Trump visit of the Camp Fire in Chico, California, on Saturday, November 17, 2018 | Photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr./Regional Pool/Sacramento Bee, St. George News

President Donald Trump toured the area Saturday, joined by California’s outgoing and incoming governors, both Democrats who have traded sharp barbs with the Republican administration. He also visited Southern California, where firefighters were making progress on a wildfire that tore through communities west of Los Angeles from Thousand Oaks to Malibu, killing three people.

“We’ve never seen anything like this in California, we’ve never seen anything like this yet. It’s like total devastation,” Trump said as he stood amid the ruins of Paradise and pledged the full support of the federal government. The president initially blamed state officials for poor forest management in exacerbating the fires and threatened to cut off federal funding.

“He’s got our back,” outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown said on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday. “There have been some back and forth between California leaders and the president. But in the face of tragedy, people tend to rise above some of their lesser propensities. So I think we’re on a good path.”

Brown also suggested California’s severe wildfires will make believers of even the most ardent climate change skeptics “in less than five years” and that those living near forests might need to build underground shelters to protect them from fires going forward.

President Donald Trump visits a neighborhood impacted by the Woolsey Fire, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Malibu, Calif. | Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci, St. George News

Despite Trump’s earlier assertions of poor management, several experts came out with alternate claims, including University of Utah fire scientist Philip Dennison, who said multiple reasons explain the fires’ severity, but “forest management wasn’t one of them.”

One reason scientists know that management isn’t to blame is that some areas now burning had fires in 2005 and 2008, Dennison said, so they aren’t “fuel-choked closed-canopy forests.”

In those earlier fires, Paradise was threatened but escaped major damage, he said. In the current blazes, it was virtually destroyed.

The other major fire, in Southern California, burned through shrub land, not forest, Dennison said.

“It’s not about forest management. These aren’t forests,” he said.

Dennison and others said, rather, that it was a result of weather conditions and patterns, such as the predicted winds, and drought.

Read more: Forest Service ecologist proposes ways to help curb rising ‘Era of Megafires’ 

Rain was forecast for midweek, which could help firefighters but also complicate the search for remains. The National Weather Service warned that on Sunday, the area could get 20 mph sustained winds and 40 mph gusts, which could make it hard for crews to continue making progress against the blaze.

Northern California’s Camp Fire has destroyed nearly 10,000 homes and torched 233 square miles. It is 55 percent contained.

The fire zone in Northern California is to some extent Trump country, and that enthusiasm was on display as dozens of people cheered and waved flags as his motorcade went by.

Kevin Cory, a wildfire evacuee who lost his home in Paradise, praised Trump for coming to a state that is often at odds with the White House.

Children stand on the side of the road holding an American flag as the motorcade of President Donald Trump drives through Chico, Calif., on a visit to areas affected by the wildfires, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. | Associated Press photo via Evan Vucci, St. George News

“I think that California’s been really horrible to him and the fights. I mean they’re suing him,” he said. “It’s back and forth between the state and the feds. It’s not right.”

But for the most part, survivors, some who had barely escaped and no longer had homes, were too busy packing up what little they had left or seeking help to pay much attention to the president’s visit.

Michelle Mack Couch, 49, waited in line to get into a Federal Emergency Management Agency center in the city of Chico. She needed a walker for her elderly mother and tags for her car.

“Let’s hope he gets us some help,” said Couch, who voted for Trump and whose rental home burned down last week. As far as taking time out to watch the president, she said wryly, “We don’t have a TV anymore.”

Honea expressed hope that Trump’s visit would help with recovery, saying the tour by the Republican president and California’s Democratic leaders “signals a spirit of cooperation here that ultimately benefit this community and get us on a path toward recovery.”

In Southern California, Trump also met briefly at an airport hangar with families and first responders touched by the shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks more than a week ago.

Trump called the shooting at a country music bar, which left 12 dead, “a horrible, horrible event.”


Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in Paradise, California, and Janie Har and Daisy P. Nguyen in San Francisco contributed to this report.


Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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  • Comment November 18, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    I don’t think a visit from the donald would make me feel any better if my house burned down. Unless ofc, it was to give word that the feds were gonna dole out a bunch of $$$ to the victims…

    • tazzman November 18, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      Well what do you think FEMA is doing there, twiddling their thumbs? That’s exactly what the article said. And if you bothered to listen to Brown, Newsom and Trump, they all said aid and permitting processes to rebuild would all be expedited.

      Some people need to spout less and read and listen more.

      • Comment November 18, 2018 at 3:13 pm

        calm down sweety. i didn’t even read the article

        • jh9000 November 18, 2018 at 3:16 pm

          Maybe you should read articles before commenting. You know, so you have some idea of what you’re talking about.

        • Carpe Diem November 18, 2018 at 3:24 pm

          he he he
          Well alrighty then, tazzman was spot on. Anyways, it’s funny this is blamed on global warming by some, (Brown) when the east coast is in major lockdown at the same time due to record early cold and snow. It’s weather, folks, and very fine weather at that.

          • bikeandfish November 18, 2018 at 5:34 pm

            Weather and climate are different. And “global warming” is not mutually exclusive from cold weather and snow. Its interesting that you highlight “record early cold and snow” as that is actually consistent with the generic predictions of climate change, ie noticeable and erratic changes to historic patterns.

            And its not just Newsom bringing up the subject but specialists and scientists.

          • Carpe Diem November 19, 2018 at 8:19 am

            IKR? Record cold and snow is empirical evidence, clinching the Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory. Too bad none of Al Gore’s predictions came true though! Say, did you hear the size of his carbon footprint? Dang! Big spender!

          • bikeandfish November 19, 2018 at 1:29 pm


            Its clear you don’t understand the science of Global Warming or Climate Change. What you are stating isn’t “empirical evidence” so much as anecdotal and oversimplified. And its key to highlight again, despite the misinformation coming from those opposing the science, that Global Warming doesn’t mean we won’t experience events like the east coast currently is. Those storms fit within the range of predictions of scientific models.

            Examples of how the affects of anthropogenic climate change and global warming could lead to more snow:



            Put simply, using the recent storms on the east coast is a red herring that doesn’t undermine real science of climate change and global warming. And I could care less about Al Gore. Attacking the messenger (a very flawed one at that) isn’t a viable strategy for proving the science wrong.

        • KR567 November 18, 2018 at 5:10 pm

          comment maybe you should try reading an article before putting your foot in your mouth

  • Comment November 18, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Since this was an AP article I just read the title and looked at the pictures.

    • Carpe Diem November 19, 2018 at 8:21 am

      I always look for the SJW spin in them. Always find a nugget! Like this one:

      “But for the most part, survivors, some who had barely escaped and no longer had homes, were too busy packing up what little they had left or seeking help to pay much attention to the president’s visit.”

  • Redbud November 19, 2018 at 5:19 am

    You ALL got it wrong! It has nothing to do with climate change. This is the beginning of California’s punishment for promoting theology and ideas that take away our freedoms. Just wait until California breaks off into the ocean. No one will miss them.

    • iceplant November 19, 2018 at 8:13 am

      Are you always this unhinged at 5:19 in the morning? Stop listening to alt-right-wing propaganda.

      • Carpe Diem November 19, 2018 at 9:12 am

        Alt-left-wing propaganda tells you the immigrants are wonderful, the CA deficit is wonderful, but if we could all chip in big TAX money tho, the global warming droughts “might stop”. Koolaid much?

        • iceplant November 19, 2018 at 10:12 am

          LOL @ “alt-left-wing”
          You see… that’s the difference between you and me. I actually know what I’m talking about while you continue to make stuff up. No such thing as alt-left, Einstein. Thanks for playing.

        • bikeandfish November 19, 2018 at 1:15 pm

          As of June 2018 California had a $9 billion surplus. It has managed to erradicate the Medi-Cal deficit that resulted from an “error” the years before. You are talking about a state that has a $200 billion plus budget and is one of the largest economies in the country.

          And I don’t know anyone stating taxes will stop drought.

          • Redbud November 19, 2018 at 4:46 pm

            The $200 billion surplus is the calm before the storm. It won’t last long, watch and learn.

    • Carpe Diem November 19, 2018 at 8:28 am

      It is rather lush there… but there are droughts too. It’s a natural cycle that California Man cannot have complete control over and imagine, one big mistake after another piles up on their head. A good disaster befalling them right now is a High-Rise residential building that is tilting. OOPS These units are expensive too!

      Lots of articles on it, a snip:

      “When reports started coming out about how Millennium Tower had already sunk 16 inches and was tilting two inches to the northeast, residents hired engineering consultants to assess the problem and to see how bad it was. The building was only supposed to settle 12 inches during its lifetime. The condo association and developer launched initial talks to find ways to fix the situation. One engineering company estimated the tower would sink another eight to 15 inches if no measures were taken to fix the problem.

      Lawsuits soon followed. One resident filed for $500M in damages against Millennium Partners and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority. Finger-pointing between Millennium Partners and the TJPA began.”

      • Comment November 19, 2018 at 12:23 pm

        Since you bring up SF and their leaning tower… I just find it amusing how so many right-wing nutters think SF is some kind of “librul socialist” city. It might be the most capitalistic city in the world actually. I mean, besides all the homosexual nonsense that goes on there, the city is driven by nothing but capitalism, corporatism, and greed. And the people that run CA are anything but socialists. I just find it amusing.

        • Red2Blue310 November 19, 2018 at 1:14 pm

          Thats why California has the 6th largest economy in the world, and Utah… oh well. More amusing, our president blames “not raking” enough leaves up. Rediculous when we all know about 50 mph winds and drought. Stupid.

          • Comment November 19, 2018 at 1:47 pm

            well, the president is either behaving like a narcissistic lunatic or playing some sort of agenda AT ALL TIMES. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which it is…

          • tazzman November 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm

            I have a big beautiful rake for you Red2Blue. The biggest, most beautiful rake to rake all of those forests up.

            Make rakes great again!

          • Red2Blue310 November 19, 2018 at 6:51 pm

            Yes Tazz, I’ll let you rake first so you can follow Trump’s incompetent leadership into any forest. Take the rake to Trump’s wig while you are at it too. Make America great again with all the other Trump chumps, chimps. Ha, ha…

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