Rains could hinder search for California wildfire victims

Sheriff Kory Honea has said some people have been added to the list more than once at times under variant spellings of their names.

As of Monday, the fire has torched more than 151,000 acres (61,107 hectares) of drought-parched scrub and trees, incinerating some 12,000 homes along the way, Cal Fire said.

But firefighters in recent days have gained significant ground against the blaze, carving containment lines around 70 percent of its perimeter, according to the agency.

Efforts to further suppress the flames were likely to benefit from a storm expected to dump as much as 4 inches (10 cm) of rain north of San Francisco between late Tuesday and Friday, said Patrick Burke, a National Weather Service forecaster.

‘MUDDY, MUSHY MESS’

But heavy showers carry the potential for unleashing dangerous mudslides in newly burned areas while also making it more difficult for forensic teams sifting through cinders and debris in search of additional human remains.

Colleen Fitzpatrick, founder of the California-based consulting company Identifinders International, said the expected rain will turn the site into a “muddy, mushy mess,” slick with wet ash.

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