The number of people missing in a devastating wildfire in northern California jumped to more than 1,000 on Friday, authorities said, as the remains of eight other victims were found by rescuers.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the number of missing had soared from 631 on Thursday to 1,011 on Friday as more reports of missing were being sent in and as emergency calls made when the fire broke out on November 8 are being reviewed.
The eight additional victims brings to 71 the number of people who have died in the so-called Camp Fire. Three other people have died in southern California in another blaze dubbed the Woolsey fire.
Honea underlined that the list of missing was constantly fluctuating and it did not mean that all those on the list were presumed dead.
He said it was improper to speculate on the fate of those on the list, noting that as of Friday, 329 individuals previously reported missing had turned up alive.
Some listed have likely survived but not yet notified family or authorities, either because they lack phone service or were unaware anyone was looking for them, authorities said. Others may not have been immediately listed because of delays in reporting them.
Thousands of displaced residents seek shelter
Besides the toll on human life, property losses from the blaze make it the most destructive in California history, posing the additional challenge of providing long-term shelter for many thousands of displaced residents.
At least 1,100 evacuees were being housed in 14 emergency shelters set up in churches, schools and community centers around the region, with more than 47,000 people in all remain under evacuation orders, authorities said.
Scientists have said the growing frequency and intensity of wildfires in California and elsewhere across the West are largely attributable to prolonged drought that is symptomatic of climate change.
The disaster already ranks among the deadliest wildfires in the United States since the turn of the last century.