California wildfire deaths rise to 71 ahead of Trump visit
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea stressed that the list of those unaccounted for does not mean all of them are missing.
He said the list was “dynamic” and could easily contain duplicate names and unreliable spellings, as well as some who fled the blaze and do not realise they have been reported missing.
Some of the people have been confirmed as dead by family and friends on social media. Others have been found safe, but authorities have not yet marked them as such.
The wildfire razed the town of Paradise, with a population of 27,000, and heavily damaged the outlying communities of Magalia and Concow, destroying 9,700 houses and 144 apartment buildings, authorities said.
Firefighters were gaining ground against the blaze, which blackened 222 square miles. It was 45% contained and posed no immediate threat to populated areas.
Searches were also continuing for those who perished and those who survived the deadliest US wildfire in a century, ahead of a planned visit by president Donald Trump.
Some survivors resent that Mr Trump tweeted two days after the disaster to blame the wildfires on poor forest mismanagement. He threatened to withhold federal payments from California.
“If you insult people, then you go visit them, how do you think you’re going to be accepted? You’re not going to have a parade,” Maggie Crowder, of Magalia, said on Thursday.
But Stacy Lazzarino, who voted for Mr Trump, said it would be good for the president to see the devastation up close, adding: “I think by maybe seeing it he’s going to be like ‘Oh, my goodness’, and it might start opening people’s eyes.”
In a Fox News interview on the eve of his visit, the president repeated his criticism. Asked if he thought climate change contributed to the fires, he said: “Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.”
In Southern California, more residents were being allowed back into their homes near Los Angeles after a fire torched an area the size of Denver, destroying more than 600 homes and leaving at least three people dead.
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