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Searches for Wildfire Missing End in Triumph, Despair

On Friday morning, days after wildfires overtook Butte County, California, relatives of 49-year-old Kelly Burke were frantically searching for her and spreading the word that she was missing on social media. One neighbor in the woods near her town, Berry Creek, claimed to see Burke evacuate with friends, but no one could reach her.



a man standing in front of a sunset: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images


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JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

“Living in Idaho and not being able to search for mom is killing me,” Burke’s daughter Chelsea Vonarmfelt wrote on Facebook. 

The next morning, Vonarmfelt began a long drive from Boise, intent on finding Burke, who’d vanished after the North Complex fire leveled her rural community of about 1,200 people. The flames destroyed Burke’s house, where she lived with her boyfriend and a roommate.

“We don’t know where the heck she is,” Burke’s sister, Kimberly Rancour Follettie, told The Daily Beast on Friday morning.

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