In California, Fires So Fast Hesitation Proved Lethal

Monday, October 16, 2017

NEW YORK TIMES — With towering flames bearing down, one victim delayed escape in hopes of saving his new truck — but he could not find the keys. An elderly couple slept as danger erupted, not waking until it was too late to flee down their one-lane road. Another couple, who barely missed their chance to drive away, huddled in a pool, surrounded by fire and choking smoke; he survived, but she did not.

“This will be without a doubt the most complicated identification process this area has ever seen,” said Jim Wood, an expert in forensic dentistry who was helping identify bodies through dental records. Dr. Wood, who now represents the area in the State Assembly, also helped identify victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the Lake County fires last year.