CHICO, California (AP) – Volunteers in white suits, helmets and masks poked out by ash and rubble Sunday, seeking the remains of victims of a devastating fire in Northern California before the rainfall forecast this week complicate their efforts.
While the anticipated downpours can help destroy the flames that have already killed 77 people, they can also wash away fragments of bones or turn loose, dry ash into a thick paste that can thwart the search.
A team of 10 volunteers came out of the burnt house to the burnt Sunday Sunday in a devastated paradise accompanied by a dog's body with a bell on the collar, which was buzzing in a bleak landscape.
Team members watched the debris in five-minute sweepers, using sticks to move the debris away and focus on the vehicles, baths and mattresses. When no debris was found, they were spray-painted with a large, orange "0" near the house.
In general, 400 people were involved in the search and recovery efforts. Robert Panak, a volunteer from a different team from Napa County, spent the morning search in homes, but found no debris.
Asked if the work is difficult, a 50-year-old volunteer said: "I think only about the positives, bringing relief to the families, closing down."
He said his approach was to try to imagine a home before burning and think about where people would hide.
Almost 1,300 names are on the list of people undiscovered for over a week after the start of a fire in the Butte poviat, the authorities announced late Saturday. They emphasized that a long list does not mean that they believe that all people on the list are missing.
Sheriff Kory Honea asked the evacuees to review the list of people deemed unattainable by their family and friends, and called the department if they were safe.
MPs have put hundreds of people up to now, but the overall number is still growing, because they add more names, including those from the chaotic early hours of the disaster, said Honea.
"As much as I regret we will not be able to get through this before the rains come, I do not know if it's possible," he said.
Honea said it was in the "realm of opportunity" that officials would never know the exact death from the fire.
On Sunday afternoon, more than 50 people gathered at the monument to the victims of the First Christian Church in Chico, where the inscription on the altar was: "Let us rise from the ashes".
People hugged and shed tears when Pastor Jesse Kearns refused to pray for the first rescuers: "We are asking for continuous strength, because they are tired now."
Hundreds of search and rescue workers are involved in this effort by going home when they receive instructions that someone could die there.
But they also do more comprehensive, "door to door" and "car-to-car" around the neighborhood, said Joe Moses, commander from Monterey county sheriff's office who helps oversee search and rescue.
The search area is huge, said Moses, with many structures that need to be checked.
The fire also burned many places on earth, creating a unique landscape for many search and rescue workers, he said.
"Here we are looking for very small parts and parts, so we must be very conscientious and systematic in how we carry out your searches," he said on Friday.
The remaining five people were found on Saturday, including four in Raju and one in nearby Concow, bringing the number of killed 77.
Among them was Lolene Rios, aged 56, whose son, Jed, with tears in his eyes told KXTV in Sacramento that his mother had an "infinite amount of love" for him.
President Donald Trump visited the area on Saturday, joined by departing and arriving California governors, both Democrats who exchanged sharp spikes with the Republican administration. Trump also visited Southern California, where firefighters made progress during a fire that ripped communities west of Los Angeles from Thousand Oaks to Malibu, killing three people.
"We've never seen anything like it in California, we've never seen anything like it before. It's like a total devastation," said Trump, standing among the ruins of paradise and promising full support of the federal government.
Shortly after the start of the fire, Trump blamed public officials for bad forest management and threatened to cut off federal funding.
"He is our protector," he gave Gov Jerry Brown on Sunday on CBS "Face the Nation".
"From time to time, there was a bit of a retreat between the California leaders and the president," Brown said. "But in the face of tragedy, people are rising above some of their smaller inclinations, so I think we're on the right track."
He also suggested that California's fierce fires would cause the believers even the most die-hard skeptics of climate change "in less than five years" and that those living near forests would have to build underground shelters to protect them from fires.
The rain was expected for the middle of the week in paradise. The National Weather Service said the area could reach 20 mph (32 km / h) of sustained winds and 40 mph (64 mph) gusts, which could make it difficult for crews to make further progress against the glare.
A campfire in northern California destroyed about 10,500 homes and set 233 square miles (603 square kilometers). It contained 65 percent.
Honea expressed the hope that Trump's visit would help in regaining strength, saying that the tour of the Republican President and Democratic California's leaders "signals the spirit of cooperation here that will ultimately benefit the community and lead us on the road to recovery."