National News

Northern California Sheriff Releases List of Missing in Wildfires

Posted November 14, 2018 7:49 p.m. EST

PARADISE, Calif. — Nearly a week after a historic fire ripped through this small town and killed at least 48 residents, hundreds of others are still missing, and the Butte County Sheriff’s Department has begun releasing the names of those they have yet to find.

Most on the list are older than 70; many are in their 90s. Some appear to be married; others appear to be father and son. Among them: Dorothy Larsen, 88, Chuck Piazza, 90, Josephine Hartje, 94, and Calvin Cunningham, 95.

When the fire broke out Thursday, the people of Paradise dashed from their homes, many leaving without the devices that would allow them to alert the world that they had survived. Others simply never had cellphones, computers or Facebook accounts that would help them check in.

As a result, more than 1,000 people have called the sheriff’s office to report missing family, friends or neighbors. One challenge for the sheriff’s office has been determining who is alive but missing and who is dead.

On Tuesday night, during a somber news conference at the local fairgrounds, Sheriff Kory Honea said he could not yet quantify the number missing in and around Paradise, only that it had reached hundreds of people.

The list released after the news conference consists of 103 names.

“This in no way is a list of everybody,” a spokeswoman for the department, Megan McMann, said. “The list is going to be extremely extensive.”

Her office is hoping that people who see themselves or their family members on the list will call the county and report that they have survived.

McMann said that the office is releasing the names of the missing “in waves” so that officials can handle the call volume.

The individuals on the first list, she said, are some of those reported missing by family members.