Recovery Effort Begins In Northern California After Deadly Wildfires Scorch Region

Saturday, October 14th 2017, 7:21 am
By: News On 6

The devastating wildfires raging across California are now the deadliest in the state's history. Thirty-one people are confirmed dead and 400 people are reported missing in Sonoma County alone, but officials believe some of those could be due to communication issues. At least 25,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

Tom Fellbaum left his house Monday with just the clothes on his back. He and his wife Sue lived there for 28 years.

"It's just stuff. The hard thing is the photo albums and the movies. That's the hard thing," Evans said.

In so many neighborhoods like the Fellbaums', it's an apocalyptic sight. A mail truck continued its deliveries to the mailboxes still standing along the blackened backdrop.

Officials are now moving on to the recovery phase, searching for victims within the rubble.

"Identification is going to be hard. So far in the recoveries, we have found bodies that were almost completely intact and we have found bodies that were nothing more than ash and bones," said Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano. 

Elsewhere, the fight to preserve what's left is far from over as crews in Calistoga are battling not just the weather but the terrain. They're working to stop the flames as they bear down on homes.

"They're everywhere. There's little pockets, there's stuff that we just can't get to. We just saved some houses down the street, and there's no better feeling you know?" one firefighter said. 

Jason Stevens has been living in a parking lot since his apartment burned down. All of his other possessions are now gone.

"Those things can be replaced. But there's a lot of things that can't that people have lost. I consider myself fortunate," Stevens said. "It could have been so much worse." 

One of the interesting things about the fire is how it indiscriminately it burned. Homes on one side of a street have been burned to the ground, while the other side remains almost untouched.