The devastating wildfire that has spread across Northern California has resulted in 228 individuals being unaccounted for, authorities said on Sunday. This figure represents a significant increase in missing people from Saturday when it ranged in the 100s.
According to Butte County Sheriff Cory Honea, the wildfire, unofficially called “Camp Fire,” began Thursday and had killed 29 people by Sunday, a number which is likely to rise.
“[There are] 228 individuals who have been determined to be unaccounted for. As of this briefing, my office has located 107 people after receiving [around] 550 calls from people looking for loved ones,” said Honea.
He added that officials are currently looking into whether “those individuals are in fact unaccounted for or perhaps haven’t yet checked in with a family member.”
As a result of the wildfires that ravaged through Southern and Northern California, tens of thousands of people were evacuated last week. Officials say the fires are the most destructive in the state’s history and the third-most deadly so far. They have destroyed thousands of homes.
The cause of the wildfires has not yet been officially determined, but California Governor Jerry Brown said during a press conference that the destructive nature of climate change was the reason for the devastating occurence.
“This is not the new normal. This is the new abnormal, and this new abnormal will continue, certainly in the next 10, 15, 20 years,” he stressed. “Unfortunately, the best science is telling us that dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify.”
President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in California on Friday, but Brown on Sunday asked him to elevate the declaration to a major disaster declaration in order to leverage more resources.
Over the weekend, the President on several occasions blamed the wildfires on “gross mismanagement” of the forests by California state officials, which experts, lawmakers and authorities have rejected as false.