Ashes and bones found in ruins scorched from California wildfires
6:23 AM, Oct 13, 2017
Officials are making grim discoveries -- bodies burnt beyond recognition -- as they search the blackened ruins left by wildfires scorching parts of Northern California.
"Some of them are merely ashes and bones," Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said at a Thursday press conference. "And we may never get truly confirmative identification on ashes. When you're cremated, you can't get an ID."
Thirty-one people have been killed since the wildfires began Sunday night, making this outbreak one of the deadliest in state history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
In Sonoma County, authorities had to turn to dental records, fingerprints, tattoos and serial numbers on hip implants to identify victims.
"We've been forced to work that direction because we may not have enough information to identify people, because of the fire and the severity of the burn," Giordano said.
Since Sunday, the deadly fires have leveled communities and thousands of homes, forced evacuations and produced unhealthy air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"We're not even close to being out of this emergency," Mark Ghilarducci, the director of California's Office of Emergency Services, said Thursday afternoon.
The biggest fires in Northern California were far from contained.
His widow, Jean, 78, evacuated from the home Monday, shortly before the flames reduced it to rubble, his son Monte Schulz said. The fire destroyed precious reminders of the life his stepmother and his late father had built together, along with memorabilia, Schulz told CNN.
Many have been working for days with little sleep -- but supervisors are trying to pull them off duty to get rest as firefighters from out of state arrive.
"We are finding people on the line that have just been going to work and staying out there for day after day after day," Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said Thursday. "We're identifying them. We're getting them in as soon as we can to get rest, especially now that we have more reinforcements coming."