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Death toll climbs to 48 in California's most lethal wildfire disaster

Death toll climbs to 48 in California's most lethal wildfire disaster

The toll from California's deadliest wildfire continued to grow Tuesday, as authorities said six more victims of the Camp Fire had been recovered inside homes in the Butte County town of Paradise, bringing the total to 48 so far.

The fires: There are now 228 people missing and 42 dead, making the Camp fire in the north even more lethal than the Griffith Park disaster of 1933. As of 6 p.m. local time, California fire officials said more than 97,000 acres of land had burned with 40 percent of it contained.

As the search for victims dragged on, friends and relatives of the missing called hospitals, police, shelters and the coroner's office in hopes of learning what became of their loved ones.

A California firefighter monitors a burning home as the Camp Fire moves through the area on Friday in Magalia, California. 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.

The 58-year-old told the San Francisco Chronicle he was in a Jeep ahead of the other vehicles and ran when the flames overtook them. Downed power lines that had blocked roads were cut away, and crews took down burned trees with chain saws. "He would want to be remembered for being a San Franciscan through and through".

The search for the dead was drawing on portable devices that can identify someone's genetic material in a couple of hours, rather than days or weeks.

Frank DePaolo, a deputy commissioner of the New York City medical examiners' office said that "in many circumstances, without rapid DNA technology, it's just such a lengthy process".

Still, experts said Tuesday that authorities may first try more traditional methods of identification such as examining dental records.

That is in part because victims might have undergone dental X-rays but not personal DNA profiles.

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It's a grim reality driven home by scenes from all around the state, especially the town of Paradise, California, which has been all but wiped out by the Camp Fire, now the deadliest fire in the state's history.

Thousands of firefighters battled blazes in northern and southern California as body recovery teams searched the remains of houses and charred cars for victims of the deadliest wildfires in the history of the USA state.

Aided by diminished winds and rising humidity levels, fire crews had managed by late Tuesday to carve containment lines around more than a third of both fires, easing further the immediate threat to life and property.

Meanwhile, in Southern California firefighters made progress against the massive Woolsey Fire that has left two people dead in Malibu and destroyed more than 400 structures.

"We're getting the upper hand here".

"We don't specifically have a time frame", said Cal Fire incident commander Todd Durham. California Governor Jerry Brown said federal and state governments could improve forest management, but said climate change with warmer temperatures was a bigger source of the fire hazard.

Cal Fire said more than 3,500 fire personnel were battling the "Woolsey Fire".

While the causes of the Camp and Woolsey fires have not been determined, state regulators are investigating two utility companies that reported incidents shortly before the two fires started.

"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he canceled a trip to Asia and will visit the fire zones Wednesday and Thursday".