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OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A 72-year-old man found dead in a vehicle and two other people discovered on a roadway were among the latest victims of the deadliest wildfire in California this year.

Fifteen people were killed last week in the North Complex West Zone fire, also known as the Bear Fire, burning about 125 miles northeast of San Francisco.

One person remained missing, the Butte County sheriff’s office said late Wednesday.

DNA testing was used to positively identify 12 of the victims, Sheriff Kory Honea said. They included Jacob Albright, 72, of Feather Falls, whose body was found in a vehicle on a property in the community.

The two bodies in the roadway were found in Berry Creek — one about 10 feet from an all-terrain vehicle, the other also near a vehicle, Honea said. One of them was identified as Paul Winer, 68, while the other has not been identified.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that more than 17,000 firefighters were battling some 25 major fires that were ignited in the past month, after an unprecedented lightning siege in mid-August.

READ ALSO: Couple Who Died In Bear Fire Were Ready To Evacuate But Reconsidered After ‘Erroneous Information’

The death toll stands at 25, with at least 4,200 structures destroyed statewide and more than 38,000 people under evacuation.

Newsom said environmental stewardship is not a partisan issue in the state that has had governors from both major political parties.

“We need to reconcile the fact there are no Democratic thermometers and no Republican thermometers,” he said about global warming.

In Butte County, winds thrashed the fire into explosive growth on Sept. 8, driving it through rugged Sierra Nevada foothills and destroying much of the town of Berry Creek.

Two people found on a 5-acre property in Berry Creek couldn’t escape fast enough, Honea said. The body of Philip Rubel, 68, was found inside a burned pickup truck, and Millicent Catarancuic, 77, was discovered down an embankment.

“They had packed their belongings in preparation to evacuate but later decided not to evacuate based on erroneous information that the fire was 51% contained,” Honea said.

The two lived on the compound with Catarancuic’s sister, Suzan Violet Zurz, who remained missing.

Others killed in the fire were Randy Harrell, 67, of Feather Falls and Mark De La Gardie, 61, Ken Lee, 64, John Butler, 79, Sandra Butler, 75, Jorge Hernandez-Juarez, 26, Khawar Bhatti, 58, and Josiah Williams, 16, all of Berry Creek.

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More Young and Dwindling Food Send Bears to Juneau’s Garbage

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A larger than normal number of young bears and dwindling natural food supply for them are forcing the animals to head for Juneau's garbage with unusual frequency, a wildlife official said.

A poor berry crop and lackluster salmon runs this year mean more bears are looking for food among the city's trash, KTOO Public Media in Juneau reported.

Conditions have made bears desperate to fatten themselves before they hibernate for the winter, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said.

Abby McAllister, a wildlife education and outreach specialist with the agency, said more bears are competing for the smaller amount of available food.

A better berry crop and decent fish runs last year meant more new cubs survived the winter.

Those young bears have recently been kicked out by their mothers and need to fend for themselves, but are still inexperienced, McAllister said.

“They’re kind of like a teenager on their own for the first time just trying to figure out things," she said. "They make a lot of mistakes along the way.”

There have been 687 bear-related calls so far this year to Fish and Game and the Juneau Police Department, double the number for the same period last year.

The calls involved 13 different bears. Four were moved away from the city and nine were killed because they posed threats to life or property.

Loren Brown, Juneau site manager for garbage utility Alaska Waste, told Juneau Assembly members that about 1,500 of 8,000 residential customers have bear-resistant trash cans, which automatically unload when turned upside down by a garbage truck lift.

“None of them are bear-proof,” Brown said.

There is a waiting list of 100 customers for the newest, bear-resistant trash cans, and 350 have been ordered, Brown said.

“This year is the worst it’s been in years,” Brown said. "It’s just hard to say what number is enough.”

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Tags: Alaska

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