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Dr. Bass: Forensic anthropologists in California face grim task after wildfires

A local forensic anthropologist weighs in on the task at hand for others in his field after California wildfires.

As firestorms in California take over entire towns, first responders have the one of the hardest jobs. They must contain fires, get people out safely and eventually extinguishing the flames.

When the flames burn out and all that's left is the scarred earth below forensic anthropologists have a pretty grim job as well. These are the people that go through the ash and rubble looking for and identifying those that were taken by the fires.

"My passion is Anthropology and skeletal remains," Dr. William Bass, a Knoxville forensic anthropologist, said.

Dr. William Bass has spent the last 60 years of his life as a forensic anthropologist studying human bones. From house fires to plane crashes, Dr. Bass has worked in conditions he'll never forget.

"I've worked some pretty interesting cases," Dr. Bass said.

Typically, anthropologists looking for remains will first have to determine if what they found is bone. Next, wether or not it's human.Then, they'll figure out the sex, age and ancestry to determine who it is.

In Northern California mobile DNA labs are working to identify remains.

"You never get to the stage where you are used to seeing a body," Dr. Bass said.

Dr. Bass said while this is his passion, any time children are involved he has to take a step back and realize why he's doing it.

"I see myself as working for the family, law enforcement and I've learned things not everybody knows. The right thing to do is share that with society," Dr. Bass said.