Fires in California: why so many people are missing

The fire “Camp”, as it is called, resulted in the death of 77 people-this is an official record, and the death toll is relatively stable. So why is the missing persons list so mobile?

The authorities of the most affected area Butte County recognize that the answer to this question is not simple. On Friday, when the number of missing persons exceeded 1000, Sheriff Cory Hon called the list of missing “dynamic”.

The authorities indicate that the number of missing persons is changing due to the fact that the list is constantly updated and revised on the basis of incoming messages, phone calls and emails. After November,8 when the fire began the flow of information is only increasing.

The fire spread very quickly and many people were forced to evacuate in haste. In this environment, it was difficult to obtain accurate information about missing persons.

Currently, hundreds of employees of rescue services and police accompanied by specially trained dogs are searching for human remains in burned houses.

Some media immediately noted duplication of names or strange anomalies in the list of missing persons. For example, the New York Times, wrote that it found in the early versions of the list of five people aged 119 years. The newspaper reported that it had managed to find some of the people on the list through social media.

The media attention was drawn to the case of Tamara Conry, who posted a post on Facebook that she was alive.” My husband and I have never been on the list of missing persons, ” she wrote on Thursday on one of the specially designated search pages. – We are not looking for relatives. I called and asked to remove our names from the list.”

In total, the state fire destroyed more than 12 thousand buildings, and evacuation orders are in several areas. Thousands of people are housed in temporary rooms or shelters.

Therefore, it is very difficult for the authorities to determine who is missing and who was on the list by accident or misunderstanding. The situation is complicated by communication difficulties. The fire destroyed a mobile phone network antennas and the cable line. Temporary masts of mobile communication are now installed in some areas.

The authorities keep records of missing persons posted by relatives on notice boards in temporary camps for evacuees.
Social networks have special pages where you can post requests for missing persons.

In Paradise, almost completely destroyed by fire, lived 27 thousand people, about a quarter of the inhabitants of the city were over 65 years.
This created difficulties faced by the authorities in evacuating older persons in emergency situations. “As in other places, we have a lot of elderly people who either do not use cars or have never driven at all,” says the police chie Eric Reinbold. Such people, if they manage to get out of dangerous areas, often do not have access to the Internet and phones to inform their friends and family.

The authorities have asked local residents to constantly check the list and inform them by telephone about people who are safe in order to focus limited resources on finding others.

Author: Flyn Braun
Graduated from Cambridge University. Previously, he worked in various diferent news media. Currently, it is a columnist of the us news section in the Free News editors.
Function: Editor