The death toll from Northern California’s devastating Camp fire rose to 88 on Monday, and 203 people are still listed as missing after the blaze, state officials said.
The disaster, the cause of which is still unknown, has obliterated more than 153,000 acres and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes after fierce winds and dry conditions helped it grow massively earlier this month. It quickly became the deadliest such event in state history.
Only on Sunday did authorities announce that the fire was 100 percent contained, thanks to some heavy rain during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, although they stressed that it would be months before firefighters would be able to completely extinguish it.
Search-and-rescue officials have been sifting through areas burned by the fire in an attempt to recover any human remains. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said it was still too early to say when the search would be complete but said the region was being covered as quickly as possible, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Sonny Perdue, the U.S. secretary of agriculture, traveled to Paradise, California, on Monday, the town at the epicenter of the blaze. He shared a video of ruined homes and burned-out cars on his personal Twitter account but expressed hope for the people of Paradise, saying he was “confident their resiliency will help rebuild this city.”
“We will be with them every step of the way,” Perdue said. “Collaboration btwn federal, state & local partners is a priority when it comes to helping folks get back on their feet.”
Perdue was the latest Trump administration official to visit Paradise to show support for survivors, after a visit from the president himself earlier this month. But both Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke were also there Monday to push forward the president’s plan to give the federal government more authority over forest management, including the thinning of trees to help curtail wildfire threats, according to the Sacramento Bee.
“We’re here because the president’s priority is, ‘Fix it,’” Zinke said during his visit, according to the Bee.
Both Cabinet members have proposed using thinned trees to help rebuild the communities incinerated by the fires.