California Carr Fire Kills 8 People, at Least 40 Still Reported Missing
SACRAMENTO, CA — August 2, 2018
The deadly Northern California Carr Fire has taken the lives of eight and continues to be a threat to dozens more. People have to leave their homes, and run away.
Some of the 38,000 people forced to evacuate said they were frustrated because they didn't know whether their homes were standing or were destroyed. Authorities can not reopen any evacuated neighborhoods where fires raged due to safety and urge people to be patient.
The Carr Fire has destroyed more than 112,000 acres, also known as Cal Fire. That's an area larger than Denver. Flames have also destroyed at least 966 structures in the area.
Officials say there were more than 150 engines on the way from out of state to help.
Among the victims was a second firefighter, who died fighting a huge blaze to the south near Yosemite National Park. Brian Hughes, 33, was struck by a tree and killed while working as part of a crew, national parks officials said. A private-hire bulldozer operator, who was not identified, also died while battling the fire.
"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," said Bret Gouvea, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's incident commander on the blaze around Redding, a city about 230 miles north of San Francisco.
Now the natural disaster has calmed down a bit, officials said.
The police are also investigating seven missing person reports. Redding police have an additional 11 reports of missing people, though many of them may not be included in the safety list, which identifies who is in a safe place during the Carr Fire.
Also, one of the women with her two great-grandchildren have died.
"My babies are dead," Sherry Bledsoe said through tears after she and family members met Saturday with sheriff's deputies.
Her two children, 5-year-old James Roberts and 4-year-old Emily Roberts, were stranded with their great-grandmother, Melody Bledsoe, 70.
The sixth victim, who was not identified, did not evacuate despite receiving an evacuation warning.
Last week full family almost died in their own home outside the Redding city.
Josh Lister with his wife Srah, and with their two young children, a 16-month-old son named Gage and 6-year-old Kaya had to run away.
The Listers have been staying in a hotel since the fire.
Tom Mahan, a retired hotshot, helped save a friend's home, and still seemed in shock.
"Homes were exploding, cars were exploding and I have a wife and kids and I said, 'I better FaceTime my wife just in case,'" Mahan said last week. "I didn't let her know why I was doing it but I wanted to see her face one more time."
The so-called Carr Fire that affected Redding — a city of about 92,000 people — was ignited by a vehicle problem Monday about 10 miles west of the city. On Thursday, it swept through the historic Gold Rush town of Shasta and nearby Keswick fueled by gusty winds and dry vegetation. It then jumped the Sacramento River and took out subdivisions on the western edge of Redding.
"California can expect to see hot, dry and breezy conditions through the end of the week," CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said.
Temperatures will soar into the lower 100s in many places, Norman said, and whipping winds will be "wildly fluctuating as the fires generate their own localized wind."
The fire began July 23 when a vehicle suffered a mechanical failure, officials said.
In the past several days, smoke from the California wildfires has stretched all the way to Oklahoma.
"What we're seeing in California right now is more destructive, larger fires burning at rates that we have historically never seen," Cal Fire spokesman Jonathan Cox said.
A big fire continued to burn in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles near Palm Springs, but officials lifted evacuation orders for several communities after reporting significant progress by firefighters. The Yosemite and Southern California blazes had burned nearly 100 square miles.