The grim search for victims of deadly fires laying waste to large areas of the North Bay continued Thursday, raising the death toll to 31 people between wildfires in Northern California.
Seventeen of the dead were found in Sonoma County — residents at home when they died, except for one victim who was vacationing with family in the area and resided in Southern California, Sheriff Rob Giordano said.
They include three couples long-married and in their twilight years who died together as wind-driven flames from the now nearly 35,000-acre Tubbs fire swept upon them overnight. One person also was found outside a car, Giordano said.
The deaths in the Tubbs fire have been discovered throughout the fire’s reach, including the Larkfield-Wikiup area, up along Mark West Springs Road, in urban Coffey Park and the Journey’s End Mobile Home Park in Santa Rosa, according to fire officials. Some of the bodies were little more than ash and bone, authorities said.
Another victim was just 14, a Mendocino County teen who was trying to flee flames in the community of Redwood Valley with his family. The three survivors suffered severe burns. Kai Logan Shepherd, the teenager, was one of eight people known to have died in Mendocino County fires.
Authorities expect to find more victims. As the numbers mount, some names have been trickling out through family and friends, for whom days of desperate searching have reached heartbreaking conclusions.
Giordano released the identities of 10 individuals who died in Sonoma County on Thursday evening. Others of the 31 died elsewhere in Northern California, including Napa and Yuba counties.
These are the victims so far:
Christina Hanson, 27, of Santa Rosa, was a “shining light in the lives of everyone that she touched,” family said. Relatives initially turned to social media Monday to search for the woman, who was in a wheelchair, after learning her home in the Larkfield-Wikiup area had been destroyed in the fire.
“Sadly our search for Christina has ended with the news of her passing,” her cousin, Brittney Vinculado, wrote in a post a day later. “Please keep her family in your prayers.”
Hanson’s father, Michael, suffered severe burns in the fire but is in stable condition, Vinculado later shared on the YouCaring fundraising site.
Linda Tunis, 69, never made it out of her house at Santa Rosa’s Journey’s End mobile home park on Mendocino Avenue when the Tubbs fire came roaring down the hill from the east. Her remains were found among the rubble where her home once stood, her daughter, Jessica Tunis, posted on Facebook.
“My family is so grateful for the outpouring of support,” she wrote in an update late Wednesday. “I have been a mess, absolutely devastated. Hug and kiss your loved ones extra hard tonight.”
Karen Aycock, 56, was found Thursday in what used to be the master bathroom of her Dogwood Drive home in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood, said her niece, Victoria Rilling, who along with family members spent four days frantically trying to find her.
Rilling, who lives in Connecticut, worked the phone lines, calling the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Red Cross and a local radio station, and turned to social media, while family members in the area searched emergency shelters. She said the family held hope they’d find her alive until Jeannette Scroggins, Rilling’s sister, returned to the site of the fire and found some remains.