Published: Mon, July 30, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Deadly Northern California wildfire grows by two-thirds overnight

Deadly Northern California wildfire grows by two-thirds overnight

The so-called Carr Fire roared through Shasta County, so thoroughly eating up homes, that it's hard to tell how many once stood in the ruins.

Two children and their great-grandmother were among the five killed in a Northern California wildfire as fire crews battled on to quell flames that have destroyed entire neighborhoods.

Bledsoe's relatives were among more than a dozen people reported missing after the furious wind-driven blaze took residents by surprise and leveled several neighborhoods.

One town, Keswick, has been reduced to smouldering ashes by the inferno, which whipped into a fire "tornado" on Thursday, leaping on gale force winds across the Sacramento river.

According to the newspaper's account, Melody Bledsoe's husband, Ed Bledsoe, wept as he recalled trying to get back to the family's house after he had left to run an errand on Thursday, only to learn that the fire was closing in on them.

The blaze remained unpredictable, he said by telephone from Redding. The air is thick with the smell of smoke and chemicals, and the smoldering remains are still too hot to sift through.

The fire that was ignited Monday in forested hills grew overnight to 127 square miles.

The fire also has compromised the integrity of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, which spans Clear Creek in rural Igo, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The blaze remained unpredictable, said Chris Anthony, a division chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). But we'll make new memories and get new stuff. The flames destroyed 517 structures and damaged 135. A count by The Associated Press found more than 300 homes destroyed.

The AP reported Saturday that an estimated 38,000 people were under evacuation orders with 5,000 homes threatened and the fire only 5 percent contained.

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Deputies told Kewley that there was a dispatch call for a woman and two children who needed assistance evacuating, he said, though emergency responders were not able to respond to the call.

"We're feeling a lot more optimistic today as we're starting to gain some ground rather than being in a defensive mode on this fire all the time", he said at a news conference, adding that the fire had not grown inside the city since Saturday.

More than 500 homes in Mendocino County have been evacuated, authorities said. Residents in neighboring Benmore Valley were also told to leave Saturday.

A deadly wildfire charring northern California has reportedly claimed the lives of three more people, including two young children.

President Donald Trump has declared an emergency in California, offering government aid to help with the rescue and response efforts. "There's a finite number of resources in California, and obviously we're employing them at the highest-priority incidents", Cox said.

One of those, the Ferguson Fire, prompted a rare closure of much of Yosemite National Park last week, while another forced mass evacuations from the mountain resort community of Idyllwild, east of Los Angeles. Almost 5,000 more homes were being threatened by the 75-square-mile (194-square-kilometer) blaze, which was just 5 percent contained.

The Carr fire swept into Redding on Thursday night and has so far burned more than 33,000 hectares, with only 5 per cent containment, officials said.

So far this year, wildfires have scorched nearly 4.3 million acres (1.7 million hectares) across the country, less than last year but still higher than the 3.7 million-acre (1.5 million-hectare) average for the same period over the last decade.

Mark Peterson, who lost his home in the Carr Fire, gives water to goats that survived the blaze on Friday, July 28, in Redding.

"It's tough", Shyla Campbell said Friday from the city of Shasta Lake. "And then you lose everything on top of that?" said Don Kewley, whose girlfriend is one of the Bledsoes' granddaughters. When Jason Campbell returned on Friday, he found their home of five years was gone, along with an RV and a boat.

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