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For Identification

One of the ways investigators may identify victims of the wildfire in northern California is through DNA analysis, The Scientist reports.

The Camp Fire was the most destructive in California history, according to the Mercury News, as it burned 153,336 acres. The Butte County Sheriff's Office has placed the death toll at 88, though 158 people are still unaccounted for, the Mercury News adds. Of those 88 people, 28 have been positively identified and 54 have been tentatively identified.

The Scientist notes that tools like fingerprinting and dental X-rays can help with identifying remains, but adds that some of those records also may have been destroyed in the fire. In such cases, investigators may turn to DNA testing, particularly rapid DNA analysis provided by the company ANDE, which The Scientist says has worked with the US military and FBI. ANDE is analyzing remains brought to the coroner's office, it says, while also collecting samples from family members, including at a family assistance center in Chico, for comparison. The company tells The Scientist that about 70 people have provided samples as of last weekend.

However, it adds that some samples may resist DNA identification, as the high heat of the fire in some areas may have destroyed all organic material.