California wildfires: Officials 'optimistic' despite growing death toll
30 July, 2018, 14:38 | Author: Rachel Logan
However, Mr Bosenko said his officers were still looking into the whereabouts of seven missing people.
The death toll has risen as a result of the so-called Carr fire burning in the Redding area north of San Francisco.
Bledsoe's two children, James Roberts, 5, and Emily Roberts, 4, were stranded with her grandmother Melody Bledsoe, 70, when walls of flames swept through the family's rural property Thursday.
His great-grandson phoned him at the store to say the flames were approaching and "we need your help, " according to Jason Decker, who is dating one of Bledsoe's granddaughters.
Two firefighters - Redding Fire Inspector Jeremy Stoke and a privately hired bulldozer operator named Don Ray Smith - were killed trying to contain the blaze, which has twice doubled in size and will probably be larger than the city of Philadelphia before the weekend is up.
Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said the Carr Fire in Shasta County is "taking everything down in its path", having already burned dozens of homes in the communities of Shasta, Keswick and the west side of Redding on Thursday night, adding that Redding residents had little warning try to evacuate.
The blaze remained unpredictable, he said by telephone from Redding.
The fire that was ignited Monday in forested hills grew overnight to 127 square miles. The fires that began Friday are burning about 120 miles southwest of Redding. "More people living in high fire risk areas than usual". The winds that aided firefighters in keeping the flames from more populated areas were propelling it forward at a frightening rate.
The United States federal government has approved aid for the state of California to help battle a devastating blaze that has engulfed almost 81,000 acres of land and has killed at least five people. A count by The Associated Press found at least 300 of those structures were homes.
The Carr Fire in Shasta County has claimed the lives of a bulldozer operator and a city of Redding firefighter, according to officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the U.S. National Park Service and the Shasta County Sheriff's Office.
Another northern California fire, the Mendocino Complex - made up of two fires - has also burned more than 24,000 acres in total since Friday. Officials in neighboring Lake County say residents of Benmore Valley were ordered to evacuate Saturday morning.
Firefighters douse a hotspot near various homes as the Carr fire continues to burn near Redding, California, on July 28, 2018. In a statement, the White House said the declaration will open up the availability of necessary equipment and resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
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. The Ferguson Fire near Yosemite, which has charred 46,675 acres, was 29 percent contained.
Wildfires have so far left charred an estimated 4.15 million acres (1.68 million hectares) of land in the U.S. this year.
"I tried to call them back and it just went to nothing", Bledsoe said as he wept. "That just shows that she did everything she could 'til the very end", Decker said.
"God Almighty, I don't know what I done wrong", he said. "This is just July, so we're not even into the worst part of fire season".
"It was probably the scariest thing I've ever seen", Redding Police Chief Roger Moore said of the blaze. Redding police have an additional 11 reports of missing people, though many of them may simply not have checked in with friends or family, said Redding police Sgt. Todd Cogle.
In the Sierra Nevada, famed Yosemite National Park closed Wednesday as smoke from a fire to the west cast a pall on the region. Jerry Brown had declared a state of emergency for Riverside and Shasta counties on Thursday in response to the fire.
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