The photos from the aftermath of the California wildfires are devastating
More and more updates are coming out about the impacts of the California wildfires and the news is heartbreaking. Casualties have gone up, the number of missing people is climbing, and photos from the aftermath show devastated neighborhoods.
As of Friday, there have been 71 announced deaths. 1,011 people remain missing. A staggering 12,000 buildings have been wrecked. The largest search and rescue mission in the state’s history is currently underway, with 615 crew members searching for bodies.
“A huge part of the reason everyone is doing this is to bring closure to family members,” Lyn Mangiameli, a doctor and search and rescue volunteer, tells Buzzfeed News. “We have a long tradition of burying our dead, of having a body we can put to rest. It allows us to mourn. We’re helping people do that.”
The search and rescue team are picking their way through completely destroyed areas, which California Gov. Jerry Brown said looks like “a war zone.”
“This had to be one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had,” California fire firefighter Josh Smario tells PEOPLE. “Standing in what used to be my house while I’m working to save the town I live in. The house I thought my son would experience his first years of his life in. Then hopping right back in the engine to go fight the blaze that took my house and my grandparents’ house.”
People are taking to Twitter to post ongoing updates on the death toll, the rising number of homeless California residents, and pleas for missing people.
— Ashley Zavala (@ZavalaA) November 16, 2018
Oh my, Jennifer Lynn Hayes is STILL MISSING. She is a special needs adult who uses a walker. This is urgent that we find her! #CampFiremissing #CampFireJamesWoods #ParadiseFire https://t.co/bc8Yar95tz
— Willing Hearts (@Willing__Hearts) November 15, 2018
The shelters are full.
A few shelters have had a norovirus outbreak.
Other survivors are sleeping in makeshift tent cities, or in parking lots.
Tens of thousands of people are newly homeless.
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) November 16, 2018
As firefighters and volunteers continue to make their way through the wreckage, we’re hearing more and more gut-wrenching stories of people waiting to hear if their relatives are still alive. On Thursday, the family members of retired U.S. Navy veteran David Marbury were told that his duplex had burned down. His car was still parked in the garage.
“I really hope he’s still alive and we’re going to be able to see him,” Marbury’s niece Sadia Quint tells Reuters. “We just hope that he’s still with us.”