Published: Mon, July 30, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Deadly Northern California wildfire rages largely unchecked

Deadly Northern California wildfire rages largely unchecked

Another person was found after the fire consumed another home in Shasta County, Sheriff Tom Bosenko said in a Sunday news conference.

Redding police Sergeant Todd Cogle said some of those reported missing may have fled their homes without cellphones and be safe in evacuation centers or out of the area.

Crews stretched to their limits across the state are fighting flames that have claimed the lives of two firefighters and six civilians.

Don Ray Smith, a bulldozer operator who died working to contain the fire was identified as an 81-year-old man from a small community east of Sacramento.

Authorities have arrested two people on suspicion of looting homes that had been evacuated due to an explosive wildfire. Triple-digit temperatures and dry vegetation are making it hard for crews to corral the blaze. The fire doubled in size Saturday, growing to more than 83,800 acres while putting residents and firefighters in harm's way.

The latest death in the city of Redding comes despite officials saying they were "optimistic" about the fires slowing down and that they were now "gaining ground".

Authorities on Sunday had not reopened neighborhoods in Redding that were devastated by the flames.

By Saturday evening, the fire had grown to 83,800 acres and was only 5 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"With a heavy heart we are sad to inform you all that Mel and the great grand babies were confirmed to be in the home", the family said on a GoFundMe page. Lakeport, home to about 5,000, is around 120 miles north of San Francisco. The blaze in Ventura two months later destroyed more than 500 buildings.

The fire forced many residents to gather belongings and escape in just minutes. It has burned 150 acres (61 hectares).

The Carr Fire, the deadliest and most destructive of nearly 90 wildfires burning from Texas to OR, has charred almost 34,000 hectares of drought-parched vegetation since erupting last Monday.

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The fire started Monday, from what Cal Fire calls "mechanical failure of vehicle;" whether that's a flat tire that scraped a rim on the road or a dragging muffler, the agency has not said officially. It was said to be at 10 percent containment.

Hotter weather attributed to climate change is drying out vegetation, creating more intense fires that spread quickly from rural areas to city subdivisions, climate and fire experts say. Crews have been dealing with gusty winds and hot temperatures.

Residents who gathered their belongings in haste described a chaotic and congested getaway as the embers blew up to a mile ahead of flames and the fire leaped across the wide Sacramento River and torched subdivisions in Redding, a city of 92,000 about 100 miles south of the OR border.

The fire has left five people dead, including a 70-year-old woman and her two young great-grandchildren. The flames destroyed 517 structures and damaged 135.

Thousands of dazed evacuees struggled to keep their emotions in check while trying to take care of themselves and their pets as a deadly wildfire in Northern California raged into its seventh day.

Greg and Terri Hill evacuated their Redding home of 18 years Thursday night with little more than medications, photo albums, clothes and firearms, assuming they'd be back home in a few days.

Anna Noland, who was evacuated twice in three days, learned Friday that she had lost her home.

He said when the couple first got together, she had about $24,000 in the bank.

On Saturday, it pushed southwest of Redding, the largest city in the region, toward the tiny communities of Ono, Igo and Gas Point, where scorching heat, winds and bone-dry conditions complicated firefighting efforts.

The fire grew slightly to 131 square miles (340 square kilometers) Saturday.

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