Hundreds are still missing and 31 people are confirmed dead as the aftermath of the California wildfires offers up the grim and heart-wrenching discoveries of bodies. The conditions of the bodies vary, according to Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano, he said: “We have recovered people where their bodies are intact and we have recovered people where there’s just ash and bone.”
According to the Sacramento Bee, bodies were recovered from burned cars and trucks, as the victims tried to escape the fire, but they died while trying to flee from the flames, heat, and smoke. Bodies have been found inside their homes where they apparently found themselves trapped.
The conditions of the bodies make the task of identifying the deceased time-consuming. Depending on the condition of the remains, the bodies are identified through “visuals” if they are intact. A family member would have the grim task of identifying their loved ones if the remains were not damaged to the point they were unidentifiable from the fire.
Giordano said they have been met with “extreme difficulties” in identifying some of the victims. This is a process that could take months.
Fingerprinting has also been used to identify the victims of these fires and one person was identified by a “distinctive tattoo.” For those burnt beyond recognition, the use of dental records and remaining medical implants have been able to help put a name to the remains found in various locations throughout charred areas.
According to the Sacramento Bee, some of the bodies “were discovered as piles of ash and bones, as though they already had passed through a cremation chamber.”
The average age of the victims who died in the Santa Rosa fire is 75-years-old, according to the Washington Post. An elderly couple died together in the Napa County fire, they had just celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.
According to the Sacramento Bee, a 14-year-old boy was found dead in the driveway of his Redwood Valley home. The boy’s parents were badly burned and his 17-year-old sister’s burns were so bad that both her legs needed to be amputated.
As you can see in the post below, the death toll continues to climb. Yesterday the body count was at 27, but it has since gone up to 31 and it’s expected to rise even more as the search continues for the victims who didn’t make it out alive.
The search continues today for the bodies of the missing victims of this fire, some of the search teams are accompanied by cadaver dogs. The fire progressed quickly and it caught many people off-guard. They had no idea that the fire would progress at such a rapid speed, leaving many trapped in their homes.
According to the Washington Post, many of the emergency workers said they were “stunned at the speed at which the fire progressed.” The fires are still making their way through the area with the National Weather Service reporting the gusts that helped fuel the flames have died down, but this respite is expected to be brief as the wind is expected to pick up once again over the weekend.
It is not known how the deadly fires started, as the Washington Post reported, Sunday night the flames “erupted seemingly out of nowhere,” which caused the residences to panic. They had no idea that a fire was bearing down on them until it was almost there.
[Featured Image by Jeff Chiu/AP Images]