California Fire Fallout: Public Confused By, May Mistrust Government As DNA Samples Wanted To ID Victims

Fire victims' DNA being used for ID.
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Following the devastation of the California wildfires, authorities are seeking DNA samples from relatives of those who are missing in order to identify victims. However, the number of people who are coming forward to provide these DNA samples only number around 60 at the last time of reporting, as AP News speculates that “confusion and conflicting information, the inability of relatives to travel to Northern California and mistrust of the government may be contributing to the low number.”

For some relatives of those who are missing, the wait to find out the fate of their loved ones is excruciating. Meanwhile, the DNA testing of the remains that have been found “has been surprisingly easy,” said Annette Mattern. She is a spokeswoman for a company called ANDE, a company that is providing the technology required to expedite DNA testing of discovered remains.

Meanwhile, the mistrust of the process may stem from prior reports that DNA companies sometimes sell the information that’s received to other companies for profit. For example, it was reported that 23andMe sells DNA samples to the FDA and other pharmaceutical and biotech companies, per the Inquisitr. The information is then later used for purposes that might be unknown to consumers, like development of new medicines.

So far, the information that was gathered about those missing reveals little. For example, there are 699 people on the list of people who are missing, with only 175 that provided information about ages. Of the 175 people, most of those who were reported missing were aged 60 to 89.

For some, the horrifying evacuation required them to ditch their cars and to try to flee on foot, and certain victims also perished inside of their vehicles. The reason that people had to leave their cars and attempt an escape by foot is because so many people were trying to leave at the same time, which caused a gridlock, according to the Sacramento Bee. This was the case for the Camp Fire, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office explained.

“The preliminary investigation revealed that the victims were located in vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire. Due to the burn injuries, identification could not be immediately made.”

A resident, Savannah Rauscher, recalled the terrifying evacuation.

“We saw a wall of fire. Trees were glowing 50 yards away and it was probably moving like 10 yards every couple minutes… It was moving so quickly and there’s cars as far as I can see. I had no idea it could be that fast.”