Monster California wildfire kills 5, including children

Lamar Ellis
July 31, 2018

A firefighter watches flames advance up a hill towards homes as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2018.

A California Highway Patrol officer was photographed holding the fawn he helped evacuate from the deadly Carr Fire, which has been burning for days near Redding, in Northern California.

Bledsoe's husband, Ed, who had the couple's only vehicle, had gone to buy supplies before any evacuation order was issued, family members said.

Authorities are still looking for seven people after finding nine others who had been reported missing, Bosenko said.

More than 1,300 firefighters were battling the fast-moving Cranston Fire, which began on Wednesday and forced the evacuation of about 7,000 people, the US Forest Service said.

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.

While he was out, his 70-year-old wife, Melody Bledsoe, called and told him she could see the fire and that he needed to come get her and their great-grandchildren, 4-year-old Emily Roberts and 5-year-old James Roberts, who Ed Bledsoe called "Junior".

"Grandma did everything she could to save them she was hovered over them both with a wet blanket", Amanda Woodley wrote on Facebook, shortly afterward.

The drawback of the automated calling system is that it is created to dial landlines, but cellphone users must register their phones if they are to receive alerts, she said.

"I just don't know what I've done wrong". Ed Bledsoe told the Sacramento Bee he spoke to the children on the phone as he raced in vain to return in time to save them.

"I would've liked to have went in there and died with them", Bledsoe said.

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The Carr Fire, which has destroyed more than 500 buildings, is the deadliest and most destructive of almost 90 wildfires burning from Texas to Oregon.

The blazes, known as the Carr fire, have destroyed at least 500 structures and are threatening thousands of homes.

On Saturday, thousands remained under evacuation orders - and 5,000 buildings remained under threat - after officials said the blaze had nearly doubled in size overnight.

The blaze has already left Keswick, a town of 450, in smouldering ruins, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

"Really, we're in a life-saving mode right now in Redding", said the Cal Fire battalion chief, Jonathan Cox.

"We're here till the end, and we will get to an end, and we will bring some peace to this chaos", he said. The blaze had blackened 150 acres, but was 50 percent contained on Sunday.

But when they returned Friday, virtually nothing was left of their home but fine particles of ash.

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in the fire-hit area, a move that authorises federal funds and staff to help in disaster response.

A third major blaze, the Ferguson Fire, has encroached upon the Yosemite National Park in central California, forcing the partial closure of the popular attraction and leading to the death of a firefighter several days ago.

Some 1100 people crowded into an evacuation centre at Shasta College, outside Redding, one of several shelters that officials said reached full capacity on Saturday.

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