Officials searched the burned-out remains of homes in northern California yesterday, looking for a former police reporter and several other people who authorities fear were killed in a fast-moving blaze in that part of the state. About 170 miles southeast, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, two bodies were found inside burned-out homes, Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio says. One of the victims was identified as Mark McCloud, 65, who was found inside his residence in the Mountain Ranch area. Raggio wouldn't release the name of the second victim, also found in Mountain Ranch, because the family had not been notified.
Raggio says both were found in an area where mandatory evacuations were ordered after the fire burning 60 miles southeast of Sacramento exploded in size over the weekend. Investigators are looking into whether that blaze was sparked after a live tree came in contact with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power lines. The deaths came in addition to that of an elderly disabled woman whose body was found Sunday in the ruins of her Lake County home about 100 miles north of San Francisco after what a scientist called a "mind-boggling" blaze. Authorities are searching nearby for 69-year-old Leonard Neft, who was reported missing by his family, and the local sheriff says there are reports of "several others that may have perished in the fire." (Read more California stories.)