BUTTE COUNTY (CBS13) — Officials in Butte County reported another fatality from the North Complex Fire Monday.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced the remains of one additional person have been recovered from the Bear Fire, also known as the North Complex West Zone Fire, bringing the total death toll to 15. Honea said two people are still missing, as of Monday evening, and deputies have good leads on those individuals.
The sheriff also identified three more victims, all from Berry Creek. Husband and wife John and Sandra Butler tried to seek refuge in a pond but did not make it. Jorge Hernandez Flores, 26, was also killed.
Crews are still actively fighting this deadly fire that has burned more than 76,000 acres in the West Zone and 262,565 acres overall. In Butte County, the fire is about 20% contained, Cal Fire said.
Some evacuations orders have been reduced to warnings, including the areas north of Forbestown road to Lumpkin Rd including Lake Haven Way and Faye Mar Rd., including Stringtown Rd just north of Mountain Oak Rd.
You can find current evacuation information and maps on the sheriff’s website.
Sheriff Honea told the community Monday that it will take time for evacuated areas to reopen to residents as emergency crews are still working to contain active fires and clean up downed power lines and trees. He did say the department is moving more quickly than it did in 2018 with the Camp Fire, and they are working on developing a program for citizens to be escorted by law enforcement up to their property.
Damage assessment is also underway, and officials say at least 376 homes have been destroyed so far along with two schools. Honea said the sheriff’s department will be getting help from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office’s drone to survey the damage and make an aerial map that will be made public.
Law enforcement is also cracking down on people illegally entering evacuation zones. Honea announced two more arrests during a press conference Monday, bringing the total number of people arrested to eight. The sheriff emphasized that his department is taking the job of protecting evacuated property seriously.