An out-of-control wildfire in the area of Redding, California, has claimed the lives of at least six people and several others are missing.
The so-called Carr Fire has burned hundreds of homes in the northern California community and sent thousands fleeing for their lives. Redding is located on the Sacramento River, about 170 miles north of the state capital.
The blaze started July 23 and was caused by “mechanical failure of a vehicle,” according to Cal Fire. It has since spread to more than 100,000 acres and has destroyed almost 900 structures. So far, about 40,000 residents have been evacuated.
Included among the dead were a 70-year-old great grandmother and her two great grandchildren, ages 4 and 5. The woman’s husband, who was running an errand when the fire hit, stated that they had received no warning.
“If I’d have [had] any kind of warning, I’d have never ever left my family in that house,” he said.
Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said his department did issue an evacuation order for people living in Redding. They’re investigating to see if the victims’ home received a warning call or a door-knock.
Also killed in the Carr Fire were a Redding municipal firefighter and a private-hire bulldozer operator. Several other firefighters have been treated for injuries sustained while battling the blaze.
About 3,300 firefighters had been making progress in containing the fire when it quickly began to spread. By Saturday, it had doubled in size. In fact, the intensity of the Carr Fire spawned two exceptionally rare fire tornadoes, as the fire generated its own weather.
The National Weather Service has warned that the forecast will only worsen the situation. A dangerous heat wave, with triple-digit temperature and extremely low humidity, is expected to continue. No rain. Gusty winds. No end in sight.
More than a dozen other large wildfires are also burning across the state.
The largest is the Ferguson Fire, which prompted the closure of most areas in Yosemite National Park. That blaze has now consumed almost 60,000 acres of wildland and is only 30 percent contained. (See related article, “Ferguson Fire Chokes Yosemite Valley.”)
The Ferguson Fire has already claimed the lives of two firefighters. Capt. Brian Hughes, of the Arrowhead Hotshots, was killed when he was struck by a falling tree while working with his crew to set a backfire. Earlier, a Cal Fire bulldozer operator died when a bulldozer tumbled down a hillside during the building of a defensive line.