2 more towns ordered to evacuate as California wildfire expands

Saul Bowman
July 31, 2018

- About 10,000 more people were ordered evacuated as two wildfires surged toward small lake towns in Northern California while the state's largest and deadliest blaze of the year slowed slightly after days of explosive growth, authorities said.

The death toll climbed to six, and authorities anxious that another forecast for high winds could fan the flames even further.

Authorities said Monday the fire had grown to almost 100,000 acres, mostly in remote areas, but it's now 20 percent contained.

Dave Spliethof is a pilot for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection who works as an aerial spotter, looking for fires, which is what he was doing when he discovered he'd lost his house. "Any event could bring this back up again".

"There's a lot going on up here, endless fires, and they're all characteristically pretty much the same - windy, hot and dry", firefighter James Sweeney said before heading out for a meal and a nap. "I'm just glad my mom got all the valuable stuff that she wanted out".

"I think I'm still in shock", Noland said. The sheriff cited evidence that door-to-door notifications were made in the area.

A vehicle problem ignited the fire Monday, but it wasn't until Thursday that the fire exploded and raced into communities west of Redding before entering city limits. Thankfully, Google Maps has released its 2018 California fire map that lists updates on the various blazes, as well as a Google Crisis Map with information about air quality, evacuation orders, shelters, fire containment statistics, road closures, and more.

The Carr fire covers around 39,000hectares (95,000 acres) and was just 17 percent contained, the state authority Cal Fire said late on Sunday.

Local officials estimate at least 517 structures have been destroyed and another 135 damaged - a majority of them were homes. A count by The Associated Press found at least 300 of those structures were homes.

Two firefighters were killed - one from the Redding Fire Department and the other a bulldozer operator hired to battle the fire.

Two children and their 70-year-old great-grandmother died in the wildfire that swept with devastating speed into the city of Redding, about 260 kilometers north of Sacramento, capital of California.

Bosenko said Sunday that 16 people have so far been reported missing over the course of the fire.

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said he expects to find several of those people alive and just out of touch with loved ones.

Wildfires across California have forced more than 50,000 people from their homes, said Lynne Tolmachoff, a Cal Fire spokeswoman.

A Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park firefighter, identified as Capt. Brian Hughes, died fighting the Ferguson Fire after he was struck and killed by a tree Sunday, according to a statement from the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. With so many burning near populated areas, "resources are obviously stretched thin", he said. "Knowing it could be my house someday, we do everything we can to prepare for it, but this one was so bad even all the preparation in the world. just didn't stop it". Another 1,000 have been displaced in neighboring Mendocino County.

The California Office of Emergency Services said in a tweet on Saturday that the state was "getting help from other states to help fight wildfires".

Stoke, who joined the Redding Fire Department in 2004, was killed while assisting with evacuations, the union said. By Thursday, the blaze had grown to 28,000 acres.

Big fires also continued to burn outside Yosemite National Park and in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles near Palm Springs.

Yosemite Valley remained closed to visitors and won't reopen until Friday.

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