Inside Secretary Ryan Zinke says California's Camp Fire costs likely in billions



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/ Source: Associated Press

PARADISE, Calif. – Costs associated with a deadly Northern California wildfire will likely be in the billions, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Monday as he returned to the town of Paradise, saying he has never witnessed such devastation.

"There's a lot of things I'd rather spend this federal money on rather than repairing things that have been destroyed," he said. Zinke nodded to other public services, such as improving visitor experiences at Yosemite National Park or thinning forests as options for the money.

No further details were found Monday, but the wildfire's death toll after 88 investigators determined that three separate sets of human remains remain from more than one person.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said 203 names remain on the list of those unaccounted for after the Camp Fire swept through the rural area 140 miles north of San Francisco. I have released the names of 16 people who died in the blaze, ranging in age from 58 to 95.

The pace of newly discovered remains has slowed in recent days, and Honea said that searchers are making "good progress" as they methodically sweep through any property where people may have died.

"The remains that we are now recovering are now almost completely consumed by the fire," he said. Anthropologists are sifting through bone fragments to help coroners identify the remains, he said.

Honea said that they are highly populated areas and places that have been identified as having deceased people have been fully searched and are now spreading out into less dense areas of devastation.

The U.S. government has distributed more than $ 20 million in assistance for people displaced by the catastrophic wildfire in Northern California, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday the hundreds of searchers kept looking for more human remains.

The massive wildfire that destroyed nearly 14,000 homes in the town of Paradise and surrounding communities was fully contained over the weekend after igniting more than two weeks ago.

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