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Charred Remains Found In Angeles Nat'l Forest Believed To Be Of Two Missing Hikers

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A menacing shot of one of California's deadly wildfires from 2013. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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A pair of burned bodies found in the Angeles National Forest north of Azuza are suspected to be the remains of two hikers who went missing at around the same time the Reservoir Fire burned through the area. According to the Los Angeles Times, both 16-year-old Jonathan Pardo and 31-year-old Carlos Perez have been missing since June 20, the same day the fire first broke out.

For the past two weeks since Pardo and Perez, who were cousins, went missing, family members have combed through the area where the pair was last known to be. On Thursday, Jonathan's older brother Richard Pardo was searching through terrain close to the Morris Reservoir off of Highway 39, when he saw five birds circling an area on a ridge. He hiked up to the spot the birds were circling, and found two charred remains.

"Me and my family members found the bodies," Ricardo Pardo said to KCAL. “It’s sad that police officers want credit when they didn't want to help at all."

Pardo dropped off his brother and cousin just a few hours before the Reservoir fire swept through the same area. The Azuza Police Department was notified a couple days later, on June 23, the same day missing persons reports were filed for both Pardo and Perez.

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At that point, County Fire and Sheriff's deputies began an official search for the pair, using search-and-rescue teams as well as helicopters to scour the lower San Gabriel Mountains. Azuza police also pinged Jonathan Pardo's cellphone, learning only that it had been last active on June 20, the day the fire burned through the area where the two bodies were found.

"The terrain... was uphill from the fire and about one hour away from where the ignition was," said Sheriff's Lieutenant Mike Rosson to the Times. "At some point in time, the fire chased them uphill."

As of now, the bodies haven't been positively identified. Coroner's department workers must recover the bodies from the mountain ridge, and then compare the DNA in the remains to the DNA of living family members, according to KABC.

Pardo, however, is sure the remains are his little brother and cousin. When he found the charred remains, he also recognized a partially burned backpack he says his family members were hiking with.