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A Year Later, One Camp Fire Mystery Persists

Who is the person found alongside victim Ellen Walker in her Concow home?
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2019 1:30 PM CST
Moraga Orinda Fire Dept. firefighter Dan Dick climbs over a fence to put out hotspots in the steep terrain along Concow Rd as he works on the Camp Fire, part of the Butte Lighting Complex Fires, Saturday...   (AP Photo/The Chico Enterprise-Record, Jason Halley)

(Newser) – What is known: Ellen Walker, 72, was one of the 85 people who died in Northern California's devastating Camp Fire. Her remains were found in her Concow home. What is not known, nearly a full year after the wildfire raged through the town on Nov. 8, 2019: Who else's remains were found alongside hers. Walker lived at the Schwyhart Lane house with her husband, Lon, who had left for a trucking job hours before the fire broke out. A 2.5-pound bucket of charred bone fragments was recovered from the home, and authorities eventually discovered the bones, which were reportedly "commingled," came from two different people. That second person is the only one of the 85 victims who has still not been identified, the Reno Gazette Journal reports.

Authorities have found no matching missing person's report or family searching for a lost loved one. All they have been able to determine so far is that the bones belonged to an older man who'd had dental work. A neighbor who drove by the Walkers' home as he was fleeing the fire, who honked his horn so anyone still inside might hear him and come out, theorizes maybe someone ran into the home to try to rescue Walker and also perished. Her husband says he and the rest of the family have no idea who the remains might belong to; as far as they know, Walker was home alone when she died. They noted in her obituary that fibromyalgia and other health problems likely made it difficult for her to evacuate. Authorities are trying to extract enough DNA from the second set of bones to attempt to find a match via a genealogical database. (Read more Camp Fire stories.)

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