Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said 228 people were officially listed as missing in the disaster. Honea said his officers have received requests from relatives of those living in the area to check on more than 1,500 people. At least 150 search and rescue personnel are due to arrive in the area on Tuesday.
The sheriff said the bulk of destruction and deaths occurred in Paradise town, where most of the buildings were destroyed within hours of the start of the blaze, which has been termed the “Camp Fire”. Around 52,000 people in the town were asked to evacuate their homes, he added.
The fire has been termed the deadliest in the state’s history and the most destructive in terms of property losses. More than 7,100 homes and other structures have been gutted since it began on Thursday in Butte County’s Sierra foothills.
The National Weather Service issued an alert saying “elevate fire weather” conditions will continue across portions of northern California on Tuesday. However, “decreasing winds” are expected improve conditions this week.
The wildfires spread on Monday because of strong winds raging across forests in the southern and northern parts of the state, The New York Times reported. A town in Sierra Nevada has been wiped out while thousands of residents in West Los Angeles have been evacuated because of the “Woolsey fire”, which killed at least two people.
Around 9,000 firefighters are working on containing the fires.
President Donald Trump on Monday said he has approved California Governor Jerry Brown’s request to declare the wildfires as a “major disaster”. The measure expedites the affected regions’ access to federal emergency aid.