‘Just ash and bone’: Death toll in California wildfires reaches historically grim heights

THE WASHINGTON POST – CLEVE R. WOOTSON JR., KRISTINE PHILLIPS, JOEL ACHENBACH, HERMAN WONG

The scale of death and destruction is unprecedented and almost unfathomable.

Thirty-one confirmed dead.

Hundreds still missing on Friday.

Thousands of homes and businesses destroyed, including whole neighborhoods reduced to smoldering rubble by the wildfires raging throughout Northern California.

“We all have suffered a trauma here, and we’re going to be a long time in recovering from this incident,” Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey told reporters.

As authorities continue assessing the damage from the most devastating spate of wildfires to strike the state in modern history, the blazes are burning mostly uncontained — with winds likely to return this weekend, breathing dangerous new life into the deadly arc of flames.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said Thursday that some 190,000 acres had been scorched across the state — a collective area nearly the size of New York City — as dangerous conditions spread the fires with frightening speed.

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