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NorCal Fire Death Toll Climbs to 63, Fears Escalate as 631 Declared Missing


Authorities in northern California say the state's deadliest wildfire has killed at least 63 people and they're now searching for a dramatically higher number of missing people.

Late Thursday, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea explained that the number of missing had jumped to 631, 501 more than reported just a day earlier. 

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the number shot up after officials did a thorough review of both 911 calls and missing person reports.

Authorities expect the death toll to rise but also believe that the number of missing will drop as people who don't realize that they're unaccounted for come forward. Still, it's a huge number.

Search teams are scouring thousands of structures looking for victims and officials are collecting DNA from individuals who believe their family members may have perished in the fire. 

The Camp fire has displaced 52,000 people, forcing them to seek shelter in the homes of family and friends as well as in pop-up tent cities in church and Walmart parking lots.

There's no timeline for when authorities will allow these evacuees to return to their neighborhoods to find out if their homes survived the blaze or not.

So far, firefighters have contained just 40 percent of the Camp fire and the surrounding communities still have many roads closed and downed power lines as fire crews douse remaining hot spots.

Several churches are still standing in the area, including Magalia Community Church. Pastor Kevin Lindstrom told CBN News that he looks forward to returning as soon as authorities give permission. The church has a large fellowship hall and professional kitchen that he'd like to use to serve the community.

"As soon as they let us in, we will be there ASAP to provide people encouragement and assist the community however we are needed," he told CBN.

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