77 killed in Camp Fire; nearly 1K still missing

California

(CNN) — While hundreds of families wait in agony to learn the fate of missing loved ones, officials gave a gut-wrenching forecast on the fate of California’s Camp Fire:

It’s not even halfway done burning yet.

Since the Camp Fire erupted November 8 in Butte County, it has killed 77 people, destroyed more than 10,500 homes and torched an area the size of Chicago. Across California, at least 80 people have died in wildfires this month.

>>Butte County Missing Persons List

But the Camp Fire probably won’t be fully contained until November 30, according to Cal Fire, the state’s forestry and fire protection agency.

“It is overwhelming, I don’t have any word to describe it,” Butte County Sheriff and Coroner Kory Honea said. “This is unprecedented. No one has had to deal with this magnitude that caused so much destruction and regrettably so much death.”

Meanwhile, displaced residents are in limbo. Many are in Chico, Butte County’s most populous city, about 15 miles from ground zero of the disaster, the town of Paradise.

Some evacuees are staying with friends and family. Others are in a tent city in a Walmart parking lot. On Sunday, those seeking a place to grieve trickled into the First Christian Church of Chico for a candlelight vigil.

A sign in the church set an intention for the hours-long open memorial: “We will rise from the ashes.”

The Camp Fire is already the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. And with 993 people still unaccounted for, officials fear the death toll could keep rising.

Crews are combing the remnants of houses where all evidence of life has been wiped out by flames. Many of the searchers have lost their own homes and are looking for the remains of their neighbors.

While the search for the dead and missing continues, thousands of firefighters are trying to control the blaze. 

At last check, the fire has burned 151,000 acres and is 66 percent contained. 

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