Real recovery would have to wait for firefighters to bring under control the 21 wildfires spanning more than 300 square miles (777 square kilometers).
Standing in the remains of their home, the couple's son Mike said his father appeared to have been heading to his wife's room when he was overcome by the smoke and flames. "The bottom line is we have a hot shower, a bathroom and a bed and blankets", said wildfire evacuee from Sonoma, Eric Morrison.
The fires are the deadliest in the state's famous wine country since 1933 and officials are warning it could get worse.
Sonoma and Napa counties endured a fourth day of choking smoke while many residents fled to shelters to await word on their homes and loved ones.
The Tubbs fire, which has been responsible for 17 deaths in Sonoma County and destroyed at least 2,834 homes and 400,000 square feet of commercial space in the city of Santa Rosa alone, had burned 34,770 acres and was 10 percent contained by Thursday night, not a big change from that morning. But he said overall the effect on the 60,000ha of vineyards along California's north coast would be relatively minor.
They awoke to good news, however. The fires struck the heart of California's world-renowned wine-producing region, wreaking havoc on its tourist industry and damaging or destroying at least 13 Napa Valley wineries.
Giordano was only talking about fatalities in Sonoma County, although the area has borne the brunt of the fires. In some cases, we have recovered bodies intact.
Fires were "burning faster than firefighters can run, in some situations", Emergency Operations Director Mark Ghilarducci said.
Three GoFundMe campaigns are raising money to help feed residents and relief workers in Sonoma County and Santa Rosa. But officials believe many of those people will be found. Chaotic evacuations and poor communications over the past few days have made locating friends and family difficult.
House after house, block after block has been obliterated, leaving smouldering piles of ash dotted by brick chimneys and the skeletons of burned-out cars.
The fires drove hundreds of evacuees north to beaches, some sleeping on the sand on the first night of the blazes.
Fuel includes everything from trees, underbrush and dry grassy fields to homes. Neither fire grew as much overnight as they have been, and the high winds that were predicted haven't materialized.
In Napa, the Tubbs fire devastated homes and businesses.