Officials describe grueling process of finding, identifying those missing in Camp Fire aftermath

PARADISE, Calif. (KGO) -- It's a grueling process trying to dwindle down the Camp Fire missing persons list.

In some cases, the DNA of victims has been collected and processed, but officials can't identify them.

A crew from Santa Barbara spent the day Friday combing through debris in the rain as they looked for remains in Paradise.

They placed flags in the areas they found questionable.

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"The only way we can identify those people is to have family members submit reference samples so we can match the two," Jim Davis, ANDE Chief Federal Officer said.

Davis met ABC7 News at the Family Assistance Center on Friday. He should have been busy taking mouth swabs. However, when we talked to him, no one had showed up yet.

Yesterday, his group had 68 family donors and they need hundreds more to make a DNA comparison.

RELATED: List of people missing, resources for reporting missing people and pets in Butte County

Maria Shahaid wishes she could do it for her friend from church.

"Nobody has heard from him, but we have no names of relatives or nothing," she said.

Davis is with the company using Rapid DNA to identify Camp Fire victims. Once the DNA chip is in the machine, results are provided within two hours.
Officials tell us this is the first time this process has been used in a mass casualty situation.

"There are people out there who have loved ones who are among the dead at the morgue that we have not been able to identify," Davis said.

A PSA was recently released calling for family donors. Mouth swabs can be taken at any police station in the country. Still, some are hesitant.

RELATED: Red Cross attempting to cross names off Camp Fire missing list

"As we've collected samples from people, you know we see this emotion that comes with accepting the possibility that their loved ones are gone," Davis said.

Davis told ABC7 News the Butte County Sheriff vowed to destroy DNA collected from relatives once his investigation has closed.

Anyone who needs more information on providing DNA should go to

There is more information on the Camp Fire in Butte County here.
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