Five Dead as California Wildfire Consumes More Homes

Aaron Brown
July 31, 2018

"We are simply not getting a break". "Any event could bring this back up again".

Anna Noland, 49, was evacuated twice in three days before learning through video footage that her house had burned.

She planned to stay at a shelter at Simpson College in Redding while she searches for another place to live. "As quickly as possible we were able to communicate what was happening, but I think in any crisis situation you're only a couple of steps ahead of yourself".

"I knew at the time, 'OK it's gone, it's going, it's gone, you know, just take a deep breath and go back to work, '" Spliethof told CBS News. I don't know. You don't know what to say.

The fires have spread across 48,000 acres (194 sq km) of land - an area larger than the city of San Francisco. The fire, near the city of Redding, began threatening neighboring Trinity County on Sunday.

Fire crews, in the meantime, were stretched to their limits across the state fighting flames that have claimed the lives of two firefighters and six civilians.

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

Eight-one-year-old Don Ray Smith was a bulldozer operator who was helping clear vegetation in the path of the wildfire when he died.

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

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.

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

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Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said authorities found a sixth victim of the blaze at a home that was consumed by flames, though he declined to say where.

Five people have been arrested on suspicion of entering evacuated areas, police said.

Exhausted and hungry, some 12,000 firefighters are working 24-hour shifts battling deadly California wildfires and becoming resigned to fire seasons that start earlier, burn longer and unleash increasingly unpredictable blazes.

"It was nearly like a tornado with fire in it and it came over the hill and it wiped out our house, it wiped out our next door neighbor's home", she 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".

About 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Redding, two blazes that prompted mandatory evacuations in Mendocino County destroyed four homes and threatened more than 4,500 buildings, officials said.

Some 3,500 firefighters and a squadron of 17 water-dropping helicopters had carved buffer lines around 5 percent of the fire's 100-mile perimeter by Sunday.

Unsafe and irregular fire-generated wind "and fire-induced whirlwinds are possible. threatening life and property", it said. The individual, who was found in an undisclosed residence, was told to leave because of the fire but declined to do so, he added.

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 Natchez Fire near the OR border has burned 4,613 acres and is 10 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Yosemite Valley remained closed to visitors and will not reopen until Friday.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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