By Meg Oliver CBS News November 19, 2018, 6:32 PM Frantic search underway for remains of Camp Fire victims before rain washes away DNA
PARADISE, Calif. — Rain is expected on Wednesday in Northern California, bringing relief but also the potential for mudslides. That could complicate the search for remains of victims of the Camp Fire, which claimed at least 77 lives.
"It's heavily ash and soot, and when the water touches that, it turns to sediment. So anything that we have or potentially have is going to be further buried and entombed by that," said Brian Ferrara, who is part of the search effort.
Search teams are combing through twisted metal, trying to find mattresses or bathtubs where people might have taken cover when the fire left them no way to escape. More than 40,000 people were forced to flee the Camp Fire, and nearly 1,000 people are still unaccounted for.
"That list is subject to fluctuation up or down, it has new information and data comes in," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said.
The sheriff said there are duplicate names on the list, people who don't know they're on it and reunions that haven't been reported.
As investigators dig into the cause of the Camp Fire, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has confirmed it had two power line failures the day the fire ignited. But in a statement, the utility said in determining a "public safety power shutoff" it considers multiple factors including "strong winds, very low humidity levels, and critically dry vegetation … The forecasted conditions didn't meet the criteria."
Back at the recovery effort, 30-year-old Chardonnay Telly received devastating news. Last week, CBS News was with her as she tried to locate her father, Richard Brown. She had not heard from him since the fire struck.
"He has been through war, and so many things, and there's a possibility he could have made it," she said at the time.
The remains of her father have now been found and identified. She said she doesn't think her father made it very far from home. Nearly everyone in the community has suffered some kind of devastating loss.
This was a community of trailer homes that burned to the ground. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said they are working to secure long term housing for the thousands who lost their homes. But it's unlikely they will arrive in time for Thanksgiving.