Teresa Moniz’s hand shook Monday as she added her husband’s name — “Albert Moniz, aka Pete” — to a list of missing persons taped to a board at the Neighborhood Church in Chico.
She was in nearby Magalia on Thursday when her husband called from home, saying, “There’s a fire; I have to get out,” she recalled, her eyes filling with tears.
He called again from a friend’s house, but that was the last time she heard from him. Their house is gone, and Albert Moniz, 67, is disabled and has no cellphone, his wife said.
“I’ve been checking the motels,” she said.
She said she knows that their Paradise, Calif., home on Edgewood Lane burned because she saw a video showing its destruction.
Moniz is one of scores still missing in the worst fire in California history.
The death toll from the Camp fire climbed to 42 on Monday, as search teams sifted through rubble and ash in and around Paradise for additional victims.
“If you’ve been up there, you understand the magnitude of the scene we’re dealing with,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a news conference Monday night.
Honea said anthropologists from Cal State Chico and the University of Nevada at Reno with expertise in identifying human remains were helping in the grim search effort. Honea also has requested 150 additional search and recovery workers, two military mobile morgues and a rapid DNA identification system.
“I understand the toll that it takes on people not knowing what became of their loved ones,” the sheriff said. “My sincere hope is I don’t have to come each night and report a higher and higher number.”
Teresa Moniz said her husband’s daughter started a Facebook page in the hope of finding him.
“Everyone who knows him knows he’s being looked for,” she said.