Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — Northern California crews battling the country's deadliest wildfire in a century were bracing for strong winds, with gusts up to 50 miles per hour, creating the potential to erode gains they have made in containing a disaster that has killed at least 76 and leveled a town.

Even as hundreds of searchers sift through the rubble in the town of Paradise looking for the dead, nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire sparked in Butte County, Sheriff Kory Honea announced Saturday night. Authorities stressed that the long roster does not mean they believe all those people are missing.

Honea pleaded with fire evacuees Saturday to review the list of those reported as unreachable by family and friends and call if they are safe. Deputies have located hundreds of people to date, but the overall number keeps growing because they are adding more names, including those from the disaster's chaotic early hours, Honea said.

"It's really very important for you to take a look at the list and call us if you're on the list," he said.

The remains of five more people were found Saturday, including four in the decimated town of Paradise and one in nearby Concow, bringing the number of dead to 76.

Honea said among the dead was Lolene Rios, 56, whose son Jed tearfully told KXTV in Sacramento that his mother "had endless amount of love for me."

RELATED: Animals impacted by deadly California wildfires

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Animals impacted by deadly wildfires in California
MALIBU, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Llamas are tied to a lifeguard stand on the beach in Malibu as the Woolsey Fire comes down the hill Friday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Cathy Fallon pets her dog Shiloh at their home Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Paradise, Calif. Shiloh was burned when a wildfire scorched the property, burning down Fallon's home. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Horses are tied to lifeguard booths on the beach in Malibu, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. Wildfires are burning in both Southern and Northern California. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Equine veterinarian Jesse Jellison carries an injured goose to a waiting transport during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 10, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Horses are spooked as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 inAgoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
Dogs roam burned out neighborhoods as the Camp fire tears through Paradise, north of Sacramento, California on November 08, 2018. - More than one hundred homes, a hospital, a Safeway store and scores of other structures have burned in the area and the fire shows no signs of slowing. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
MALIBU, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Horses are tied to a pole on the beach in Malibu as the Woolsey Fire comes down the hill Friday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
MALIBU, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Llamas evacuated from the Woolsey Fire are tied to a lifeguard tower at Zuma Beach in Malibu on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. (Photo by Scott Varley/Digital First Media/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)
PARADISE, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Rocklin police officers Randy Law grazes a horse he rescued in Paradise, Calif., Friday, November 9, 2018. (Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images)
Jimmy Clements, who stayed at his home as the Camp Fire raged through Paradise, Calif., pets his dog Blue, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. Clements, whose home stands among destroyed residences, said he built an FM radio out of a potato and wire to keep up with news about the fire. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Cathy Fallon sits near her dog Shiloh, a 2-year-old golden retriever, whose face was burned in the fire in Paradise, Calif. Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. Shiloh needs veterinarian treatment. But she can't leave her property because authorities won't allow her to return to Paradise, since the entire town is still under an evacuation order. Fallon and Shiloh are spending nights in this horse trailer because the family home burned. (AP Photo/Paul Elias)
Marty Cable is one of dozens of horse owners who evacuated her home in Encinal Canyon to bring their animals to an evacuation area at Zuma Beach in Malibu, Calif., Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. Known as the Woolsey fire, it has consumed thousands of acres and destroyed multiple homes. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
Goats are cared for at The Pierce College Equine Center where evacuees are bringing their large animals after being evacuated from the wildfire in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. A wind-driven wildfire raged through Southern California communities on Friday, burning homes and forcing thousands of people to flee as it relentlessly pushed toward tony Malibu and the Pacific Ocean. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Teresa Merritt, left helps her sister Mary Lou Miller with her dogs after being evacuated at The Pierce College Equine Center where evacuees are bringing their large and small animals in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. A wind-driven wildfire raged through Southern California communities on Friday, burning homes and forcing thousands of people to flee as it relentlessly pushed toward Malibu and the Pacific Ocean. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Wildfire evacuee Eva Loeffler sits with her 20 year-old pony Mini at the Pierce College Equine Center where evacuees are bringing their large and small animals in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. A wind-driven wildfire raged through Southern California communities on Friday, burning homes and forcing thousands of people to flee as it relentlessly pushed toward Malibu and the Pacific Ocean. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
PARADISE, CA - NOVEMBER 11: A dog named Rockey stands on the fence in front of the home of Jimmy Clements that survived the Camp Fire on November 11, 2018 in Paradise, California. Fueled by high winds and low humidity the Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise charring over 105,000 acres, killed 23 people and has destroyed over 6,700 homes and businesses. The fire is currently at 25 percent containment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Yolo County Sheriff's Office Animal Services Officer Tim Share leads a rescued horse towards a trailer during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 10, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A donkey is seen tied to a road sign during the Camp Fire near Big Bend, California, U.S. November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A group of deers walk through properties destroyed by the the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Local residents bring their horses to Zuma Beach and away from the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California, U.S. November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
MALIBU, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Llamas evacuated from the Woolsey Fire are tied to a lifeguard tower at Zuma beach in Malibu on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. (Photo by Scott Varley/Digital First Media/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)
People lead horses and ponies down Pacific Coast Highway to an evacuation area at Zuma Beach in the Point Dume area of Malibu, Calif., Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. Known as the Woolsey Fire, it has consumed tens of thousands of acres and destroyed multiple homes. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
MALIBU, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Horses are yied to a pole on the beach in Malibu as the Woolsey Fire comes down the hill Friday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Nine year-old pit bull Tone, which suffers from burns on its paws during the Camp Fire, rests in the parking lot of Neighbourhood Church of Chico, in Chico, California, U.S. November 11, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Veterinarian Dawn Alves tends to a dog named Fatty who received burns on its eyes and chin during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 11, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Evacuee Brian Etter and dog Tone, who walked on foot to escape the Camp Fire, rest in the parking lot of Neighborhood Church of Chico, in Chico, California, U.S., November 11, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Horses are spooked as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 inAgoura Hills, California. About 75,000 homes have been evacuated in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to two fires in the region. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
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President Donald Trump toured the area Saturday, joined by California's outgoing and incoming governors, both Democrats who have traded sharp barbs with the Republican administration. He also visited Southern California, where firefighters were making progress on a wildfire that tore through communities west of Los Angeles from Thousand Oaks to Malibu, killing three people.

The president pledged the full support of the federal government. Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom thanked him for coming out.

"We've never seen anything like this in California, we've never seen anything like this yet. It's like total devastation," Trump said as he stood amid the ruins of Paradise.

Rain was forecast for midweek, which could help firefighters but also complicate the search for remains.

Northern California's Camp Fire has destroyed nearly 10,000 homes and torched 233 square miles (603 square kilometers). It is 55 percent contained.

The fire zone in Northern California is to some extent Trump country, and that enthusiasm was on display as dozens of people cheered and waved flags as his motorcade went by.

Kevin Cory, a wildfire evacuee who lost his home in Paradise, praised Trump for coming to a state that is often at odds with the White House.

"I think that California's been really horrible to him and the fights. I mean they're suing him," he said. "It's back and forth between the state and the feds. It's not right."

But for the most part, survivors, some who had barely escaped and no longer had homes, were too busy packing up what little they had left or seeking help to pay much attention to the president's visit.

Michelle Mack Couch, 49, waited in line to get into a Federal Emergency Management Agency center in the city of Chico. She needed a walker for her elderly mother and tags for her car.

"Let's hope he gets us some help," said Couch, who voted for Trump and whose rental home burned down last week. But as far as taking time out to watch the president, she said wryly, "We don't have a TV anymore."

Honea expressed hope that Trump's visit would help with recovery, saying the tour by the Republican president and California's Democratic leaders "signals a spirit of cooperation here that ultimately benefit this community and get us on a path toward recovery."

In Southern California, Trump also met briefly at an airport hangar with families and first responders touched by the shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks more than a week ago.

Trump called the shooting at a country music bar, which left 12 dead, "a horrible, horrible event."

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Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in Paradise, California, and Janie Har and Daisy P. Nguyen in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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