California wildfires death toll reaches 86, with more than 500 still unaccounted for

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Hundreds of people remain missing in the wake of a pair of deadly wildfires that have been burning across both ends of California.

The two monstrous blazes, which both ignited earlier this month, have claimed at least 86 lives while laying waste to a total area of nearly 400 square miles, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Officials said that at least 64 of the remains have been positively identified so far.

The vast majority of the deaths — 83 in total were due to the Camp Fire in Northern California’s Butte County, making it the deadliest and most destructive wildland fire in the state’s history.

The number of people missing or unaccounted for in Butte County was down to 536 on Wednesday evening, according to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.

As firefighters make progress in containing the fire and officials continue to account for residents, their concern will soon turn to mudslides that may result from the upcoming rain.

The smoke from the flames descended across the Golden State and choked the air in major cities, including San Francisco. Officials have advised residents in the affected areas to remain indoors and wear a protective mask outside.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for California over the past weekend as humidity dropped and wind gusts were forecast to get up to 40 mph in the Camp Fire zone.

Much-needed rain is expected to finally arrive in the area on Wednesday morning. However, even though that will help fire fighting in the state, there is the potential for mudslides in burn scar areas.

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