Butte County Sheriff’s Office: 15 people found dead in North Complex fire identified by authorities

Local News

PLUMAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Evacuations have been ordered in Plumas, Butte and Yuba counties as crews battle the North Complex fires and the North Complex West Zone Fire.

The North Complex began on Aug. 17, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Since then, it has burned 318,930 acres and is 95% contained.

The North Complex West Zone Fire, formerly known as the Bear Fire and included in the North Complex fires, has now been made its own incident. 

The North Complex West Zone Fire has burned 84,595 acres and was 95% contained.

Fire crews say approximately 2,471 structures have been damaged or destroyed in the North Complex fire, and approximately 2,342 structures have been destroyed and 113 damaged by the North Complex West Zone Fire. 

An online structure damage map is now available by tapping or clicking here.

According to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea, 15 people have died. One more person was thought to have died but the remains were later confirmed to be an anatomical model found in someone’s burned down storage shed, and not actual human remains.

Fourteen remains have been identified.

  • Josiah Williams, 16, of Berry Creek — Two of Williams’ family members had escaped the flames and Sheriff Honea said the teen was trying to get out of the fire in his own vehicle when he became trapped.
  • Khawar Bhatti, 58, of Berry Creek — Sheriff Honea said Interpol had to be contacted because Bhatti’s family was in Pakistan.
  • John Butler, 79, and Sandra Butler, 75, of Berry Creek — Sandra Butler last told family she and John Butler would try to hide in a pond near their home before their remains were found.
  • Jorge Hernandez-Juarez, 26, of Berry Creek
  • Philip Rubel, 68, of Berry Creek — Honea said Rubel was found dead in a burned-out pickup truck. 
  • Millicent Catarancuic, 77, of Berry Creek — Catarancuic was found near Rubel.
  • Susan Zurz, 76, of Berry Creek — Zurz was found near Catarancuic and Rubel. Family members told officials the three knew of the fire and had packed up their belongings to leave. However, they eventually decided not to evacuate based on what the sheriff said was “erroneous information that the fire was 51% contained.”
  • Paul Winer, 68, of Berry Creek
  • Randy Harrell, 67, of Feather Falls
  • Jacob Albright, 74, of Feather Falls — Albright was found in a vehicle on a Feather Falls property.
  • Mark Delagardie, 61, of Berry Creek — A friend requested a welfare check at Delagardie’s home because he had chosen to stay home and not evacuate the area. On Sept. 14, his remains were found at his home.
  • Kin Lee, 64, of Berry Creek— Sheriff Honea says Lee’s family spoke with him on the phone the night of Sept. 8. He told them he would leave if he saw flames approaching. Lee’s remains were found in the area near his house.
  • Larry Holder, 61, of Berry Creek
  • Linda Longenbach, 71, of Berry Creek — Detectives determined Winer and Longenbach spoke to a relative in the afternoon on Sept. 8, the pair said they were aware of the fire and chose not to immediately evacuate at that time. Their bodies were found Sept. 10.

Of the victims who have been identified, 13 are from Berry Creek, according to the sheriff’s office.

Butte County Superintendent of Schools Mary Sakuma says she went with a small group to Berry Creek Elementary School. She says what they found was “a total loss.”

“We recognize that for the residents of Beery Creek, it was more than a school site. It was the hub of the community,” Sakuma said.

Due to the high volume of calls to the Butte County dispatcher from residents, a new call center was launched. The call center is staffed by the county’s Community Emergency Response Team and will help callers navigate evacuation maps online.

The number is 530-552-3010 is available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily for as long as the line is needed by residents, according to Honea.

Butte County Sheriff’s deputies will be at the Local Assistance Center in Oroville to assist residents with evacuation maps, drone imagery and maps of areas impacted by the North Complex West Zone Fire. 

They will also handle requests for escorts to properties that remain under evacuation order.

LAC Hours 
Monday-Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

Evacuation Orders

Plumas County

As of Oct. 9 at 11 a.m., all mandatory and advisory evacuation orders have been lifted.

Butte County

  • The area west of Oro-Quincy Hwy, from Seminole Drive north to the Butte County Line
  • Pulga
  • Concow
  • Big Bend
  • Yankee Hill
  • Paradise

Yuba County

  • Forbestown
  • Challenge
  • Woodleaf
  • Clippers Mills
  • Strawberry Valley

Evacuation Warnings

Butte County

  • The areas on both sides of Oro-Quincy Hwy from Whispering Chapel Lane north to Seminole Drive and the area east of Oro-Quincy Hwy from Seminole Drive north to the
  • Butte County Line.
  • The area of Broken Springs Road south of Ponderosa Reservoir.
  • The community of Magalia
  • The community of Stirling City
  • The town of Paradise
  • Clark Road from the Paradise Town limits south to Hwy 70, east to Lake Oroville to include Pentz Road from the Paradise Town limits south to Hwy 70

Plumas County

As of Oct. 9 at 11 a.m., all mandatory and advisory evacuation orders have been lifted.

Yuba County

  • Brownsville

Road Closures

  • Oro Quincy Hwy at Whispering Chapel Lane
  • Encina Grande at Deer Meadow Rd
  • Simmons Road at Big Ridge Road
  • Stephens Ridge Road at Oro Quincy Hwy
  • Broken Springs Road at Ponderosa Way
  • SR 70 at Cherokee Road
  • Coutolenc Road at Jordan Hill Road
  • Peppard Flat Road (The dirt portion)
  • Bucks Lake Road from the Plumas/Butte County Line to Bucks Lake Road at Big Creek Road (east) (residents of Tollgate may access their homes)
  • Highway 70 from the Hwy 89/70 wye (Greenville Wye) west into Butte County 

Evacuation Centers

  • Butte County Fairgrounds, 199 East Hazel St., Gridley (Temporary Evacuation Point)
  • Springs of Hope Church, 59 Bell Lane, Quincy

Animal Shelters

Butte County

  • Large Animal Shelter: Camelot Equestrian Park, 1985 Clark Road, Paradise
    • Please note: Camelot will not be accepting animals between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.
  • Small Animal Shelters:
    • Old County Hospital, 2279 Del Oro Ave., Oroville
      • This shelter is currently at capacity and cannot accept additional animals at this time.
    • 521 Cal Oak Road, Oroville

This is a developing story.

countdown
D
H
M
S
More Your Local Election Headquarters

Don't miss

More Featured

Latest News

More News