Searchers in California wildfire step up efforts; 77 dead

A team of 10 volunteers went from burned house to burned house Sunday in the devastated town of Paradise, accompanied by a cadaver dog with a bell on its collar that jingled in the grim landscape. The members of the team scrutinized the rubble in five-minute sweeps, using sticks to move aside debris and focused on vehicles, bathtubs and what was left of mattresses. When no remains were found, they spray-painted a large, orange “0” near the house.

Up to 400 people were involved in the overall search and recovery effort. Robert Panak, a volunteer on a different team from Napa County, spent the morning searching homes, but didn’t find any remains.

Asked whether the job was tough, the 50-year-old volunteer said, “I just think about the positives, bringing relief to the families, closure.” He said his approach was to try to picture the house before it burned and think where people might have hidden.

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