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Number of missing in California fire doubles to more than 600

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Authorities say more than 600 people are missing after fires razed parts of California.

The number of people listed as missing in one of California's deadliest wildfires has skyrocketed past 600, authorities said Thursday, as the remains of seven additional victims were found by rescuers.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the number of missing had more than doubled during the day to 631 as investigators went back and checked emergency calls made when the fire broke out a week ago.

A cadaver dog searches for victims of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A cadaver dog searches for victims of the Camp Fire in Paradise, California.
AAP

"I want you to understand that the chaos we were dealing with was extraordinary" when the fire started, he told journalists, in explaining the staggering new number.

The seven additional victims brings to 63 the number of people who have died in the so-called Camp Fire in northern California.

At least three other people have died in southern California in another blaze dubbed the Woolsey Fire.

Many of those missing are aged in their 80s and 90s with authorities fearing elderly people were left behind in the chaos when the fire broke out. 

President Donald Trump is set to visit California on Saturday to meet with victims of the wildfires believed to be the worst in the state's history.

Investigators recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire.
Investigators recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire.
AAP

Nearly 9000 homes and other buildings, including most of the town, were incinerated last Thursday night, hours after the blaze erupted, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

What was left was a ghostly, smoky expanse of empty lots covered in ash and strewn with twisted wreckage and debris. 

The sheriff has asked relatives of the missing to submit DNA samples to hasten identification of the dead. 

Additional reporting by AAP. 

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