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Authorities are using a powerful tool in their effort to identify the scores of people killed by the wildfire that ripped through Northern California: rapid DNA testing that produces results in just two hours.
The system can analyze DNA from bone fragments or other remains, then match it to genetic material provided by relatives of the missing. But the technology depends on people coming forward to give a DNA sample via a cheek swab, and so far, there are not nearly as many volunteers as authorities had hoped for.
Tuesday - Weeks - Inferno - Town - Paradise
As of Tuesday, nearly two weeks after the inferno devastated the town of Paradise and surrounding areas, the number of confirmed dead stood at 79, and the sheriff's list of those unaccounted for had about 700 names.
But only about 60 people had provided samples to pop-up labs at the Butte County Sheriff's office in Oroville and an old Sears building in Chico, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency set up a disaster relief center, said Annette Mattern, a spokeswoman for ANDE, the Longmont, Colorado, company that is donating the technology.
Hundreds - Mattern - Sample - ID - Idea
"We need hundreds," Mattern said. "We need a big enough sample for us to make a positive ID on these and to also give a better idea of how many losses there actually are."
Confusion and conflicting information, the inability of relatives to travel to Northern California and mistrust of the government may be contributing to the low number.
Tara - Quinones - Anything - Uncle - David
Tara Quinones hadn't heard anything from her uncle, David Marbury, for eight days before she drove north from the San Francisco Bay Area to give a sample Friday. A worker used a small tool to scrape her cheek, took three swabs of skin and asked her detailed questions about who she was looking for and their relationship.
The uncle's landlord confirmed his house burned down with his vehicle...
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