Three major fires have been affecting California, including the San Francisco Bay Area and surrounding counties, over the past weeks.
As firefighters, utility companies, governments and people scramble to extinguish the fires, the consequences of the fires continue to mount with families experiencing the ultimate loss: that of loved ones.
The death toll so far has reached seven from the summer wildfires in California. Here’s what we know so far about the victims:
Body found north of Santa Cruz
A 70-year-old man’s body was found in Last Chance, according to USA TODAY. It’s a remote area north of Santa Cruz.
Body found north of San Francisco
A body was found this weekend from the fire north of San Francisco. The body has not been identified, USA TODAY reported.
Mary Hintemeyer, Leo and Tom McDermott
Other victims include 70-year-old Mary Hintemeyer, of Winters, Calif., her boyfriend Leo McDermott, and his son, Tom McDermott, according to Robert McNeal, Hintemeyer’s son.
On Aug. 18, as the fires spread faster, McNeal said his mother attempted to leave her property near Markley Cove to pick up supplies but encountered a roadblock. She turned back to get her boyfriend, who was in a wheelchair, and his son. Their van was ready to flee, but the fires had become so much that they had to seek refuge in their fire shelter, but it eventually failed.
Hintemeyer’s remains were found by authorities amid the property that was left in ruins.
McNeal told The Desert Sun that he wanted her to be remembered as a caretaker. “She didn’t like people not being united,” he said. “She couldn’t stand family not talking to each other. She was a uniter — that’s kind of what she did.”
He added that not only was she a nurturing caretaker, she was a strong woman too.
He said, “for her to turn around… her biggest fear was to die in a fire. That’s what’s been killing me.” But that’s the type person she was, he said. “The type of person to try and save her loved ones in the middle of her biggest fear.”
The response from people and the community has been “amazing” and “there’s a lot of good people out there,” McNeal said.
Being that his mother’s shelter failed, McNeal wants something positive to come from all of this. As a construction worker, he hopes to someday build community and private fire shelters for under-served and indigent people who don’t have the resources to build one themselves.
The family had a Facebook fundraiser page set up to help with expenses, but the fundraiser has stopped taking donations.
Michael Fournier, pilot, of Rancho Cucamonga
A pilot from Rancho Cucamonga, John Fournier, 52, died in Central California while fighting one of the enormous wildfires, according to KABC. Fournier was doing water drops in the Hill Fire, according to Cal Fire. Officials estimate he died around this time. He was the only passenger on the plane at the time of the crash.
Body of PG&E employee found in Solano County
According to KTVU, a PG&E utility worker who was helping clear room for firefighters battling the LNU Lightning Complex Fires died Aug. 20. He was found unresponsive in his vehicle in Solano County. His cause of death is unknown.
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Daniel Simon is a producer at The Desert Sun. You may contact him at [email protected]