Teams to Start Searching for Bodies after Fires, Death Toll Continues to Grow

SONOMA — Authorities in Northern California say at least four people were killed by a wildfire burning in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, bringing the state’s death toll to 31.

Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor confirmed Thursday that the four have died since a blaze ignited there Sunday night.

The fire is burning 100 miles north of several blazes in wine country that also broke out Sunday night and that have killed 25 people.

The blaze in the foothills has destroyed more than 100 homes and displaced 2,500 people.

Fire officials say it has charred 16 square miles but fire crews overnight made significant progress and it’s 45 percent contained.

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano says officials are investigating hundreds of reports of missing people and that recovery teams will start doing targeted searches for bodies Thursday. He warns that identification may be difficult and take some time.

He says officials have found some bodies almost completely intact but other remains are “nothing more than ash and bones.”