WASHINGTON - Search teams in northern California found the remains of eight more people killed by the most destructive wildfire in the state's history, bringing the toll to 56 since the fire broke out last week.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said late Wednesday the latest victims were found in the area of Paradise, a town of 27,000 people that has been devastated by the fire.
Crews have spent days in and around Paradise looking for human remains as authorities tried to locate hundreds of people who were unaccounted for since the fire broke out late last week and destroyed more than 8,600 homes as it rapidly spread.
The massive search effort now includes about 460 people, 22 cadaver dogs and a rapid DNA system that officials hope will speed the identification of victims and notification of their families.
Honea said that as of Wednesday, authorities had tentatively identified 47 of the 56 dead, pending DNA confirmation.
The list of people unaccounted for stood at 130.
Meanwhile, the fire is still burning.
Fire officials said Wednesday crews are having some success, but face challenges from steep, rocky terrain in some areas. The fire remained 35 percent contained Wednesday, with uncontrolled edges along its northern and eastern sides.
Wildfires are common in California, particularly at this time of year when warm, dry winds help quickly spread flames.
Aviva Braun of the National Weather Service said Wednesday that forecasters are increasingly confident the area will get relief in the form of rain by the end of next week. For now, people will also have to deal with poor air quality from lingering smoke.
Survivors escaped to rescue shelters, posting pictures of their loved ones and friends on bulletin boards in hopes someone might know whether they were able to flee to safety.
One evacuee, Harold Taylor, told the Associated Press, "We didn't have 10 minutes to get out of there. It was already in flames downtown, all of the local restaurants and stuff."
He said he unsuccessfully sought to convince a neighbor friend to escape with him and does not know what happened to him.
President Donald Trump said he spoke with California Governor Jerry Brown "to let him know that we are with him, and the people of California, all the way!"
Just spoke to Governor Jerry Brown to let him know that we are with him, and the people of California, all the way!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 14, 2018
Trump praised rescue workers after being briefed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Brock Long, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on their tour of the devastation.
"Thank you to the great Firefighters, First Responders and @FEMA for the incredible job they are doing w/ the California Wildfires. Our Nation appreciates your heroism, courage & genius. God Bless you all!" Trump said on Twitter.
Was just briefed by @FEMA_Brock and @SecretaryZinke, who are in California. Thank you to the great Firefighters, First Responders and @FEMA for the incredible job they are doing w/ the California Wildfires. Our Nation appreciates your heroism, courage & genius. God Bless you all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 14, 2018
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, although two utility companies reported circuit and transmission problems about the time the fires started last Thursday.
In addition to the so-called "Camp Fire," two smaller fires in southern California have killed two people since last week.
Trump has declared the fires a major disaster, freeing up federal funding for those affected by the blazes.
He pledged Tuesday to do "everything in our power to support our fellow citizens in harm's way."