With the death toll reaching 42 early Tuesday, and hundreds of people still missing, rescue and recovery teams continued their grim work sifting through charred remains of homes and other structures in the vast areas torched by three raging wildfires in Northern California, now the deadliest in the state’s history. The fires were about 30 percent contained as of Tuesday, but officials expect them to continue for several days at least, as ongoing dry weather and winds complicate the challenge.
Over a quarter-million residents have had to evacuate and around 6,500 homes and buildings in three counties —Los Angeles County, Ventura County and Butte County — have been totally burned down, leaving just chimneys and stairs to nowhere amid the scorched rubble.
Firefighters from local departments and out of state, along with federal resources, are working around the clock to contain the spread, building trench lines and dropping flame-retardant chemicals from helicopters flying over the rocky hills.
The cause of the blazes is still under investigation, but local power utility PGE is under scrutiny for a faulty transmission line as a possible source.
Alameda County Sheriff Coroner officers search for human remains at a burned residence in Paradise, California, on November 12, 2018. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Culver City Fire Department firefighters watch from a burned home on Flintlock Lane in West Hills as the wind flares up the Woolsey Fire on Sunday, November 11, 2018. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Digital First Media/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)
A sheriff's vehicle passes downed power lines along Kanan Road after the Woolsey Fire roared through the community on November 10, 2018 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A burned animal on Mullholland Highway after the Woolsey Fire roared through the community on November 10, 2018 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The Woolsey Fire burns above Malibu, California, November 10, 2018. (Photo by Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Yuba and Butte County sheriff deputies carry a body bag with a deceased victim of the Camp Fire on November 10, 2018 in Paradise, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Alex Mykulvych, left, helps load food and supplies onto a boat in Marina Del Rey on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Since access to Malibu has been cut off to vehicles, Kevin Michaels has been ferrying people and supplies on his boat Clueless up to Malibu and Paradise Cove. (Photo by Scott Varley/Digital First Media/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of structures that have burned down. We regret the typographical error.