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Three people still missing in Camp Fire [Updated]

DNA testing revealed error in identifying remains

Paradise, California Continues Recovery Efforts From The Devastating Camp Fire Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Update: The Butte County Sheriff’s Office reported on Thursday that only six people remain unaccounted for after the Camp Fire.

But the most recent list linked on the sheriff’s site Friday morning reveals only three names of still unaccounted for parties: Wendy Krug (46), Sara Fabila-Martinez (50), John Demianew (54), all from the town of Paradise.

The death toll still stands at 85.

The Camp Fire in Butte County is the deadliest wildfire on record in California, with more than 80 confirmed casualties after it roared to life on November 8.

However, a rare bit of good—if unusual—news came out of the fire zone this week, as the Butte County Sheriff’s Office revised the estimated death toll from the contained but still ongoing blaze downward.

Previously, state and county officials reported that they recovered the remains of 88 people while searching areas affected by the fire.

However, in a Monday announcement the sheriff’s office said that they’d revised that estimate back to 85, explaining via press release that “remains originally thought to be separate cases have since been proved by DNA to be the same case.”

ABC7 got a more in-depth—and, be warned, more graphic—explanation of what happened:

Butte County Sherriff Kory Honea explained that his office has determined this through DNA analysis.

[...] Remains that were believed to belong to three individuals were collected into three separate bags. Each bag was given its own case number. Through a process that has taken place at the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office involving an autopsy, DNA has now confirmed that the remains in those three bags were in fact one individual.

Of the 85 dead, three remain unidentified. Of those identified, 43 have been “positively identified,” with the rest still tentative.

As of Monday, the latest missing persons report to come out of Butte County now identifies just 11 people unaccounted for, down from a high of nearly 1,300 just a few weeks ago.

Many in Butte County remain evacuated from their homes and former homes, although the sheriff says that evacuation zones are expected to reopen “within the next few weeks.”