Watch CBS News

Camp Fire Grows To 130,000; Six More Found Dead

PARADISE (CBS13/AP) - The latest updates on California's deadliest wildfire in history, the Camp Fire:

If you are a victim of the Camp Fire, head to to apply for federal disaster assistance.

6:15 p.m.

Cal Fire said that the fire has grown to 130,000 acres and is now 35 percent contained. The number of structures destroyed has grown to 8,817 structures destroyed, 1,000 more than Monday.

The death toll also grown with the discovery of six more human remains in homes in Paradise. This brings the total number of fatalities to 48. Only three victims have been identified at this time.

Butte County Sheriff Korey Honey said the effort to retrieve human remains has grown and 100 national guard troops have been ordered to work with the other groups searching for remains. The sheriff said the growing efforts are meant to ensure that officials can cover as much ground as quickly as possible.

Additionally, Honey said that the Department of Justice has partnered with private company ANDE, which has volunteered to help expedite the process of identifying human remains. ANDE brings a rapid DNA identification system which should generate DNA systems quickly.

6 p.m.

The president of a utility accused by some residents of starting a deadly wildfire in Northern California says there was a power outage about 15 minutes before the flames were reported.

Landowner Betsy Ann Cowley says Pacific Gas & Electric notified her the day before the blaze that crews needed to come onto her property because the utility's wires were sparking.

Asked if sparks from a transmission line ignited the fire, PG&E President Geisha Williams told the Chico Enterprise-Record on Tuesday that "it's too soon to tell."

Williams says the outage was at 6:15 a.m. Thursday and later an aerial patrol spotted damage around the transmission lines. She says the company sent a report to state agencies.

She says the sparks are one of several "options" investigators are reviewing.

Some victims sued PG&E on Tuesday, alleging it failed to maintain its infrastructure.

5:45 p.m.

Victims of California's most destructive wildfire have filed a lawsuit accusing Pacific Gas & Electric Co. of causing the massive blaze.

The suit filed Tuesday in state court in California accuses the utility of failing to maintain its infrastructure and properly inspect and manage its power transmission lines.

The utility's president said earlier the company doesn't know what caused the fire, but is cooperating with the investigation by state agencies.

An email to PG&E about the lawsuit was not immediately returned.

PG&E told state regulators last week that it experienced a problem with a transmission line in the area of the fire just before the blaze erupted.

A landowner near where the blaze began said PG&E notified her the day before the wildfire that crews needed to come onto her property because some wires were sparking.

3:55 p.m.

Authorities doing the somber work of identifying the victims of California's deadliest wildfire are drawing on leading-edge DNA technology. But experts say older scientific techniques and deduction could also come into play.

With the death toll from the Northern California blaze topping 40 and expected to rise, officials said they were setting up a rapid DNA-analysis system, among other steps.

Rapid DNA is a term for portable devices that can identify someone's genetic material in a couple of hours, rather than days or weeks.

But more traditional methods, such as examining dental records, are often the first step. Partially, that's because victims might have had dental X-rays but not personal DNA profiles. Other medical records — of bone fractures, prosthetics or implants, for instance — also can be helpful.

3:45 p.m.

People are coming to shelters in Northern California in search of loved ones and neighbors who are missing after a deadly fire tore through the town of Paradise.

Greg Gibson searched a shelter in Chico on Tuesday for information about his missing neighbors. He doesn't know if they tried to leave or not but says the fire exploded so quickly that if they hesitated, they would have had trouble.

It's not clear how many people are unaccounted for in the fire that ignited last week. At least 42 people are dead.

Harold Taylor says he barely made it out of his house alive Thursday morning. The 72-year-old Vietnam veteran who walks with a cane says he tried to convince his neighbor to get in his car with him, but the neighbor declined. He doesn't know what happened to his friend.

12:45 p.m.

A fire official says crews have made "a lot of progress" in preventing a deadly Northern California from reaching Oroville, a town of 19,000 people.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection operations chief Josh Bischof said Tuesday that firefighters on foot and in bulldozers are working south of the town of Paradise. It was leveled by the blaze that started last Thursday.

Officials had worried strong winds could spread the wildfire toward Oroville and the Oroville Dam, the nation's tallest. Firefighters on Monday cleared brush and sprayed water on vegetation near the dam.

Bischof says "we're feeling a lot better about this area."

More than 5,000 firefighters are battling the fire that killed at least 42 people in Paradise and nearby communities.

12:19 p.m.

Sacramento State will be reopening their campuses tomorrow after poor air quality forced them to close for Tuesday.

The closure happened after a recommendation from the Office for Environmental Health and Safety.

Classes were also canceled at UC Davis on Tuesday due to the poor air quality caused by smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County. However, UC Davis campuses remained open and employees were told to report to work.

11:33 a.m.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will be paying a visit to the areas affected by wildfires in California this week.

Zinke will be visiting the Camp Fire area on Wednesday, then the Woolsey Fire area on Thursday.

The visit comes after President Donald Trump tweeted he had approved a Federal Emergency Declaration for Butte County due to the Camp Fire.

7:14 a.m.

New numbers from Cal Fire show the Camp Fire has burned 125,000 acres and remains 30 percent contained as of Tuesday morning.

The fire in Butte County is now the deadliest wildfire in state history, with 42 known deaths.

Authorities say they're now sending in cadaver dogs to see if more remains can be found.

Hundreds of people are still missing.

With air quality staying at hazardous levels, schools in the Sacramento Valley are taking precaution to keep their students safe.

Sacramento State has closed both their main and downtown campuses due to the smoke.

At UC Davis, classes are cancelled at both the main campus and the university's Sacramento campus.

Local districts, like Sacramento City, San Juan and Elk Grove unified are cancelling all outdoor activities, but remain open.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.