CHICO, Calif. — Volunteers in white coveralls, hard hats and masks poked through ash-covered debris Sunday, searching for the remains of victims of the devastating Northern California wildfire before rains that are forecast for this week complicate their efforts.

While the rain could help tamp down the blazes that have killed 76 people so far, it also could wash away telltale fragments of bone, or turn loose, dry ash into a thick paste that would frustrate the search.

A team of 10 volunteers went from burned house to burned house Sunday in the devastated town of Paradise, accompanied by a cadaver dog with a bell on its collar that jingled in the grim landscape.

The members of the team – one of several involved in the search – scrutinized the rubble in five-minute sweeps, using sticks to move aside debris and focused on vehicles, bathtubs and what was left of mattresses. When no remains were found, they spray-painted a large, orange “0” near the house.

Robert Panak, a volunteer on a different search and recovery team from Napa County, spent the morning searching homes, but didn’t find any remains.

Asked whether the job was tough, the 50-year-old volunteer said, “I just think about the positives, bringing relief to the families, closure.”

He said his approach was to try to picture the house before it burned and think about where people might have hidden.

Nearly 1,300 names are on a list of people who are unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began in Butte County, authorities said late Saturday. They stressed that the long roster does not mean they believe all those on the list are missing.

Sheriff Kory Honea pleaded with evacuees to review the list of those reported as unreachable by family and friends and to call the department if those people are known to be safe.

Deputies have located hundreds of people to date, but the overall number keeps growing because they are adding more names, including those from the chaotic early hours of the disaster, Honea said.

“As much as I wish that we could get through all of this before the rains come, I don’t know if that’s possible,” he said.

The remains of five more people were found Saturday, including four in Paradise and one in nearby Concow, bringing the number of dead to 76.

Among them was Lolene Rios, 56, whose son, Jed, tearfully told KXTV in Sacramento that his mother had an “endless amount of love” for him.

Rain was forecast for midweek in the Paradise area. The National Weather Service said the area could get 20 mph sustained winds and 40 mph gusts, which could make it hard for crews to keep making progress against the blaze.

Northern California’s Camp Fire has destroyed nearly 10,000 homes and torched 233 square miles. It was 55 percent contained.

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