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7 missing as deadly California wildfire continues to grow

At least seven people were still missing in Shasta County, California, as the monstrous Carr Fire continued to grow S...

Posted: Jul 30, 2018 10:06 AM
Updated: Jul 30, 2018 10:06 AM

At least seven people were still missing in Shasta County, California, as the monstrous Carr Fire continued to grow Sunday, authorities said.

Sixteen people had been reported missing, but nine of those were found safe, according to Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko, who spoke at a Sunday news conference.

Redding Police Sgt. Todd Cogle said, "We're finding that there are a lot of communication issues" making it hard to locate residents.

"We spoke with several people who left their cell phones at their residences and in this day and age people don't remember people's phone numbers," Cogle said.

The fire, fueled by high winds and dry conditions, has chewed through 89,194 acres since Monday and is only 5% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.

High temperatures, low humidity and increased winds are all in the forecast, setting the stage for more explosive fire behavior, Chris Harvey with the Cal Fire Incident Management Team said Sunday.

The blaze doubled in size Saturday. Flames have destroyed 517 structures in the Redding area, Cal Fire said.

The erratic flames are blamed for six deaths, including 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe and her great-grandchildren, 4-year-old Emily Roberts and 5-year-old James Roberts.

The three had been missing since Thursday when their house was engulfed by flames. Family members confirmed Saturday that they died.

"With a heavy heart we are sad to inform you all that Mel and the great-grandbabies were confirmed to be in the home," the family said on a GoFundMe page.

Another person was found dead after a fire consumed a house, Bosenko said Sunday.

"This fire is scary to us. This is something we haven't seen before in the city," Redding Police Chief Roger Moore told reporters Friday night.

More than 3,000 fire personnel are battling the flames with more than 300 engines and 17 helicopters, Cal Fire reported.

The fire began Monday when a vehicle suffered mechanical failure, officials said. Firefighters had been making progress containing it until Thursday night, when it began to quickly spread.

Firefighter, bulldozer operator also killed

At least two people died fighting the fire, and several others have been hurt.

Jeremy Stoke, a fire inspector with the Redding Fire Department, died Thursday, the Redding firefighters union said.

Stoke, who joined the Redding Fire Department in 2004, was killed while assisting with evacuations, the union said.

A private-hire bulldozer operator, who was not identified, also died Thursday while battling the fire.

Three Marin County firefighters were treated for burns to the ears, hands and face after they encountered a "sudden blast of heat" from burning vegetation. Engineer Scott Pederson and firefighters Tyler Barnes and Brian Cardoza have been released from a hospital, the fire department said Friday in a news release.

A fourth firefighter was being evaluated at the UC Davis Burn Center, the news release said.

Eight people were treated for respiratory and burn-related injuries at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, a hospital spokeswoman said Friday morning.

'I can't believe it's gone'

The fire forced many residents to gather belongings and escape in just minutes.

"We didn't think the fire was going to come here, so we didn't really take things out like everyone else that was scrambling at the last minute to get out when we saw fire on the ridge," Dominic Galvin said.

A resident of French Gulch, west of Redding, said she had two hours to evacuate, but some people had only 30 minutes.

"It's terrifying," Rachel Hines told CNN affiliate KRCR. "You're frightened a little bit because you don't know if you're going to come back to your house and the town is going to be different."

Chris Corona went to his parents' home to look for their cat, Jinx. The home was gone, but Jinx was there, safely hiding in a bush on a hillside untouched by the flames that killed all the other vegetation.

Corona wept as he thought of things they lost in the house.

"I can't believe it's gone. All those memories, childhood memories," he said. "Stuff that parents save, like stuff you built as a little kid for your mom. I'm just glad my mom got all the valuable stuff that she wanted out."

Looting has been reported in abandoned residences in Redding, and some arrests have been made, according to Police Chief Moore.

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." Those states with resources on the scene included Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado. Other states, including Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico and Oregon, have resources on the way, the tweet said.

Looting has been reported in abandoned residences in Redding, and some arrests have been made, according to Moore.

Looting became a problem several days ago as evacuations began, leading authorities to beef up patrols in neighborhoods, he said Sunday.

"Everyone we come into contact [with] in those neighborhoods, if they don't have a legitimate reason to be there, if we don't arrest them for looting, they'll be arrested for something else," he said.

Moore added: "It's a no tolerance stance. We don't want people in neighborhoods. People are getting victimized, and it's unfortunate."

Other fires burning in California

In addition to the Carr Fire, more than a dozen other large wildfires are burning throughout California, stretching resources.

The Cranston Fire near San Bernardino has burned more than 13,130 acres and is 29% contained.

A man accused of setting several fires in Riverside County, including the Cranston Fire, was arrested Wednesday, authorities said.

The Ranch and River fires in Mendocino County have collectively scorched more than 24,000 acres, Cal Fire said.

The Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County has burned 53,646 acres and is 30% contained. The fire has prompted the closure of the most iconic areas of Yosemite National Park, which will reopen to all visitors August 3, officials said.

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.

"Hughes was with the Arrowhead [Interagency] Hotshots for four years and will be dearly missed by everyone at the parks," the statement read. "We grieve his loss."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 394569

Reported Deaths: 5243
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60720847
Washington42359405
Marion40153516
Clackamas33040387
Lane30428361
Jackson25105363
Deschutes23795189
Umatilla15144184
Linn14859183
Douglas13523293
Josephine10278247
Yamhill9840143
Klamath9112149
Polk8325102
Benton615338
Malheur593292
Coos5768109
Columbia438056
Jefferson424366
Lincoln365852
Crook343057
Union340756
Wasco318646
Clatsop263635
Baker221833
Tillamook218046
Hood River216537
Morrow197825
Curry193939
Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5107717

Reported Deaths: 74800
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153472027244
San Diego4091824350
Riverside3892365381
San Bernardino3762805983
Orange3352965756
Sacramento1690952452
Kern1582701828
Fresno1574692270
Santa Clara1528571928
Alameda1256281512
San Joaquin1080791835
Ventura1043091192
Contra Costa1042181056
Stanislaus919641429
Tulare867391100
San Francisco57141674
San Mateo56585631
Monterey52842626
Solano47828360
Santa Barbara47523555
Merced45309671
Sonoma43349414
Placer42458473
Imperial38932776
Kings35370367
San Luis Obispo31667360
Madera26388311
Shasta26221461
Butte25608318
Santa Cruz22402224
Yolo21722261
Marin18587249
El Dorado18448168
Sutter14646186
Napa13446106
Yuba1079891
Tehama10316131
Humboldt10294119
Nevada10112105
Mendocino864999
Lassen797656
San Benito787979
Tuolumne778491
Lake7057113
Amador580067
Siskiyou479657
Glenn458536
Calaveras445788
Del Norte377942
Colusa328321
Inyo257346
Plumas19577
Mono19034
Mariposa162218
Trinity100717
Modoc7936
Sierra2190
Unassigned1560
Alpine1080
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