Investigators find two-time cancer survivor among victims of deadly wildfires in California as death toll continues to rise
Ernest Foss, 65, who had survived cancer twice, although the disease resulted in physical disabilities that left him bedbound, was found dead outside his home in Paradise, CA
Butte County, California, Sheriff Kory Honea announced Monday night, a series of three massive wildfires in Northern and Southern California have claimed at least 42 lives thus far, making it the deadliest wildfire in the state's history. Camp Fire, the northernmost fire which has burned through 113,000 acres since it began Thursday morning, was only 25 percent contained by Monday. The fire rapidly wiped out the town of Paradise and outside areas over the course of several days before devastating much of Butte County.
In a conversation with People, authorities confirmed the names of three victims among the 42 people who have died. They include Jesus Fernandez, 48, of Concow; Carl Wiley, 77, of Magalia; and Ernest Foss, 65, of Paradise. According to NBC, Foss was a musician and a former resident of San Francisco who had moved to Paradise nearly a decade ago. He was also a two-time cancer survivor and had physical disabilities which left him bed-ridden, according to his social media page.
Sheriff Honea announced during Monday night's press conference that in order to facilitate the search for human remains, 13 coroner agencies have been recruited. Three anthropology search teams have already been deployed to the area. Cadaver dogs are also slated to be brought in to assist law enforcement to find and identify victims, Honea said. Veterinary support teams will ensure the safety of the canines during the probe.
Other than Camp Fire, the Woolsey and Hill fires have wreaked havoc in Los Angeles and have forced over a quarter of a million people to evacuate from their homes and save themselves from the raging blazes. According to Honea, the death toll may continue to rise with at least 228 people still missing. Good Morning America reported that Camp Fire has destroyed 6,435 homes and 260 commercial structures in the county.
During a press briefing on Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown said: “This is truly a tragedy that all Californians can understand and respond to. It’s a time to pull together and work through these tragedies.”
After President Donald Trump blamed the destruction from the series of wildfires on "poor" forest management, Brown, who will be ending his term as governor in January, denounced the president's tweet and pointed to climate change as the reason behind the influx of fires in recent years. “Those who deny [climate change] are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we’re now witnessing,” Brown said, “and will continue to witness in the coming years.”