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California wildfires: Death toll rises to 87 with 249 still missing

Smoke rises as the large delta fire spread along Shasta County in California. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 25, 2018, 03.54 PM (IST)

The death toll in northern California's "Camp Fire" rose to 87, officials said late Saturday, adding that the blaze was almost fully under control.

The number of people still missing after a northern California wildfire obliterated the mountain town of Paradise, dropped to 249 on Sunday, the Butte County Sheriff's Office said.

Cal Fire, the state fire authority, said in its latest bulletin that the fire - which broke out on November 8 - was 98 per cent contained.

As of 19th November, 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.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea has warned that remains of some victims may never be found.

The town of Paradise was a popular destination for retirees, with people aged 65 or older accounting for a quarter of its 27,000 residents. Most of the victims of the fire identified so far were of retirement age.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire. 

Thousands of people forced to flee Paradise spent Thanksgiving in warehouses in the nearby city of Chico, or with friends or relatives in nearby towns. 

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Cal Fire, the state fire authority, said in its latest bulletin that the fire - which broke out on November 8 - was 98 per cent contained.