California wildfire claims lives of great-grandmother, two children and firefighters

Tuesday, 31 Jul, 2018

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told a news conference near the city of Redding at the edge of the blaze on Sunday one more person had been killed in a residence consumed by fire, bringing the total to six, including two firefighters.

A fire in the Redding area about 230 miles (370 kilometers) north of San Francisco has claimed five lives and destroyed more than 500 buildings while charring 139 square miles (360 square kilometers).

Bledsoe's relatives were among more than a dozen people reported missing after the furious wind-driven blaze took residents by surprise and leveled several neighborhoods.

Firefighters continued throwing resources into containing the Carr Fire, which has engulfed 95,368 acres and forced the evacuation of some 38,000 people.

Redding Police Sergeant Todd Cogle confirmed that three bodies discovered at a fire-ravaged home on the outskirts of Redding were two children and their great-grandmother.

Sherry Bledsoe, left, cries next to her sister, Carla, outside of the sheriff's office after hearing news that Sherry's children, James and Emily, and grandmother, Melody Bledsoe, were killed in a wildfire, July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif.

"Grandma did everything she could to save them she hovered over them both with a wet blanket", Woodley said in a Facebook post.

"I can tell you we are making great strides every day", Gouvea said. He said he received a phone call from his wife 15 minutes after he left saying he needed to get home because the fire was approaching.

"I said 'I'm on my way.' So I just throwed down everything and took off", he said. The fires have destroyed six homes and threaten 10,000 others.

Two firefighters were killed late last week battling the Carr blaze, and another firefighter died days earlier working at the fire around Yosemite.

Fanned by gusts of up to 60 miles per hour and fueled by dried-out vegetation, the fire more than doubled in size between Friday and Saturday, according to Cal Fire.

The Carr Fire was originally reported at an intersection of the United States highway 299, and Carr powerhouse road on July 23.

About 12,000 firefighters were battling the fires, she said.

A police chief whose home was destroyed when fire tore through his Northern California city says he will continue to stay on duty. "Rather than being in the defensive mode on the fire all the time, we're starting to make some good process out there", he said. They pledged to return people to their homes as soon as possible. So far, the flames have blackened 87 square miles, with minimal containment.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration over the weekend, providing FEMA assistance to victims of the 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.

About 100 law enforcement officers and 260 National Guard soldiers were helping with evacuations and providing security in empty neighborhoods.

At least seven people were still missing in Shasta County, California, as shifting winds, dry fuel and steep terrain helped the monstrous fire engulf nearly 100,000 acres by Sunday night, authorities said. Crews have repaired some gas lines, but utility officials said the return of service for all residents will be slow. More than 5,000 structures were threatened, and the fire was just 5 percent contained.

One of those, the Cranston fire, prompted a rare closure of much of Yosemite National Park last week, while another forced mass evacuations from the mountain resort community of Idyllwild, east of Los Angeles.