PARADISE, Calif. (AP) - Some evacuation orders could be lifted next week for areas devastated by a Northern California wildfire, and officials say residents should be prepared to find bones or bone fragments as they sift through their properties.
Camp Fire burns down most of Paradise in Northern California Photo: CAL FIRE via MGN
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea says the number of those unaccounted for in and around the town of Paradise on Wednesday is 196. The death toll remains at 88.
Honea clarified a previous statement he made claiming some fire victims might have been "completely consumed" by flames. Honea says experts informed him that in most cases some bone fragments likely remain. He urges people who find fragments to not disturb the area and call authorities.
Officials say rain moving into the area overnight could delay repopulation plans. The National Weather Service says up to an inch of rain could fall Thursday in the burn zone, raising the risk of flash floods.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed an executive order to help school districts affected by wildfires.
The order signed Wednesday waives requirements for class sizes, physical education and building codes for affected districts. It also allows the Paradise Unified School District to continue teaching students at temporary facilities even if the children are now living outside the district's boundaries.
The Camp Fire this month destroyed most of the town of Paradise, forcing thousands of residents to find shelter elsewhere.
Affected schools will get extra time to submit required audit and financial reports.
Brown's order also allows state alcohol regulators to waive certain requirements for businesses forced to relocate and eases paperwork for out-of-state utility workers helping to restore power.
Pacific Gas & Electric Company says in a new filing that it determined weather conditions were no longer dangerous enough to warrant a power shut off the afternoon of Nov. 8, hours after a wind-whipped fire was already destroying parts of Butte County.
The utility explains why it didn't follow through on warnings to shut off power in a state filing Tuesday.
PG&E warned roughly 70,000 customers Nov. 6 it might shut off power in nine counties, including Butte, due to fire risk from high winds and low humidity.
The report says by 1 p.m. on Nov. 8 weather conditions no longer warranted a potential shut off. By then the fire had already destroyed parts of Paradise, California.
Spokeswoman Megan McFarland says the utility's shut-off plan "is not deployed as a response to an active fire."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says up to 2,000 trailers could be used to help house survivors of a Northern California wildfire that has killed at least 88 people and destroyed 13,000 homes.
Toney Raines, head of FEMA's housing task force, says survivors could begin living in the trailers sometime this week. He says the 2,000 figure is just an estimate and could come down.
Other survivors are being housed in hotels and apartments, some using financial assistance from the government.
Tina Curry, a deputy director at California's Office of Emergency Services, called the magnitude of the fire unprecedented and says it happened in an area that already had a housing shortage.
She adds: "There's a huge challenge before us."
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