BREAKING: At Least 40 Dead, 300 Missing in California Wildfires



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From WRAL
The death toll from wildfires burning in Northern California has reached 40.
Sonoma County announced Saturday evening that its coroner had confirmed two more deaths, taking the total in the county to 22 and the overall count to 40.
The toll had been 35 coming into Saturday, and it is expected to keep growing.
The fires were already the deadliest group of simultaneous blazes in California history.
No details were released on the newly announced dead, but it is likely the people were killed soon after the fires broke out nearly a week ago and their bodies were just discovered.
People driven from their homes by a Northern California wildfire had pointed questions for fire and law enforcement officials at a news conference.
Travis Oglesby asked Saturday when people in his Santa Rosa neighborhood could return home, saying they are “on pins and needles” and have been hearing about looting.
Buffi Frazier wanted to know why some of her neighbors didn’t get calls warning them to leave. She also said the call she received on her home phone was unclear about whether she should evacuate.
Sonoma County sheriff Rob Giordano said officials were looking into those issues.
He said there were multiple notification systems, including reverse 911 calls to landlines. He also said some people didn’t get notices because the fire moved so fast.
The questions came from at a news conference for Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s two U.S. senators, but after they had left.
Authorities say they are sorting 300 unresolved missing persons reports, but they don’t believe the death toll related to the wildfires in California will be anywhere near that number.
Napa County spokeswoman Molly Rattigan said investigators were trying to resolve 74 missing persons cases.
Sonoma County has about 220 unresolved missing person reports. Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum says most of the reports are from faraway friends and relatives, and the missing just hasn’t reached out to them yet.
A family that had been searching for a Santa Rosa couple since Monday said they finally found the pair Saturday.
Chrystal Couto said her grandmother, who doesn’t own a cellphone, had left voicemail messages to family members after she safely evacuated, but the messages were never received. Couto spent days distributing flyers of the missing couple at evacuation centers.
She said her grandmother didn’t know anyone was looking for her when she called a friend Saturday from her hotel in San Francisco.
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