“It’s like a total cremation of a town. It’s hard to see.”

Lyn Mangiameli, a doctor and search and rescue volunteer with the San Benito County Sheriff’s office, thinks the death toll could hit 200 and the entire process will take a month or more, calling it more of a recovery than a search and rescue mission.

“They’ve found a fair number of bodies in the last two days,” he said. “The roads that were clogged when people were trying to escape. Those people who worked that area, they saw a lot of—”

He trailed off, then asked: “Did you get exposed to any burned bodies?”

“It’s a smell you will hold with you for the rest of your life,” he said. “It’s primitive.”