Fire death toll hits 63; sheriff says hundreds still missing

A wildfire burns at the Salvation Army Camp on Nov. 10 2018 in Malibu

A police officer stretches crime scene tape around an area where human remains were found in a vehicle that was destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 15, 2018 in Paradise, California.

The number of people reported missing in California's deadly wildfires has jumped to 631, as 65 victims are confirmed dead.

The Camp Fire that's burning in Butte County is the deadliest wildfire in California state history.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan reports from California.

More than 9,000 firefighters from across the country, using more than 1,000 engines, have been battling the blazes, including the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire, around 500 miles (805km) to the south.

The town of 27,000 residents has been completely destroyed and all that is left is an expanse of smouldering ruins, twisted wreckage and debris.

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The California fire department (Cal Fire) said early on Thursday that the "Camp Fire" has destroyed 140,000 acres (56,655 hectares) and was 40 percent contained.

In his defense, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said evacuation orders were issued through 5,227 emails, 25,643 phone calls and 5,445 texts, in addition to social media and the use of loudspeakers.

The seven additional victims brings to 63 the number of people who have died in the so-called Camp Fire in northern California.

Investigators on Thursday collected DNA samples from relatives to help identify victims as hundreds of rescue personel and sniffer dogs worked to locate more victims.

It comes as the White House said Donald Trump will visit California on Saturday and meet people caught up in the disaster. Many can not be with us today because they are fighting to protect their property and homes and they simply can not get out as they fight to survive without water, electricity, food, gas and, in some cases, shelter.

The fires have destroyed thousands of homes, including several exclusive residences in Malibu, where many celebrities live. Trump sparked outrage over the weekend when he tweeted that the fires were to blame on state forest management and threatened to withhold federal funds. Scientists largely attribute the devastating blazes to climate change which has caused a prolonged drought in the state.

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