2 children, great-grandmother killed in Northern California wildfire

Glen Norman
July 30, 2018

A private bulldozer operator on the fire line and a Redding firefighter were killed in the conflagration.

Melody Bledsoe, 70, is believed to have become stranded in her home along with five-year-old James Roberts and his four-year-old sister Emily.

"Extreme fire conditions continue to challenge firefighters last night", Cal Fire said in a statement released on Sunday. When Jason Campbell returned from the blaze he was fighting on Friday, he found his own home had gone up in flames, along with an RV and a boat.

"It's a hard fire to deal with", Austin said, noting the weather was hot and the terrain rugged.

Another northern California fire, the Mendocino Complex - made up of two fires - has also burned more than 24,000 acres in total since Friday.

The state is experiencing longer periods of warm temperatures and dry conditions that are making major fires almost a year-round possibility, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California Los Angeles.

CORRECTS SPELLING TO SHERRY NOT SHERRI-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

"I was trying to get to them".

Burned vehicles are seen in front of a wildfire-ravaged home, Sunday, July 29, 2018, in Redding, California.

He took hundreds of photos, recorded video and texted his wife.

Wildfires around the state have forced roughly 50,000 people from their homes, said Lynne Tolmachoff, a Cal Fire spokeswoman.

About 37,000 people are under evacuation orders, 5,000 homes are threatened and the fire is just 5 percent contained.

"What we're seeing here is an incomplete burn situation", Capt. Doug Miles said as his crew used picks, shovels and rakes to open up piles that just days ago were family homes.


The fire was likely to regain strength later in the day when temperatures were forecast to spike around 110 degrees (43 Celsius) and winds were expected to kick up.

Although well above average for the same period over the past decade, it is down from 5.27 million acres (2.13 million hectares) in the first seven months of 2017.

The fire that was ignited Monday in forested hills grew overnight to 127 square miles. Despite the efforts of 3,400 active fire personnel, the blaze is winning.

Authorities also issued evacuation orders in Napa County, famous for its wine, when a fire destroyed eight structures.

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

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said the fire started in the Whiskeytown community, a once a vibrant and bustling mining town.


They say the blazes are threatening more than 350 buildings. Crews have been dealing with gusty winds and hot temperatures.

And due to the ongoing fire-fighting efforts, the City of Redding and the California Division of Drinking Water request that all City of Redding residents and businesses, especially those not directly affected by the fire, please conserve water.

Noland was among the 38,000 people who evacuated after the so-called Carr Fire roared into the outskirts of Redding in Shasta County, leaving six people dead - two firefighters, a woman and her two great-grandchildren, and another body which remained unidentified by Sunday afternoon.

The latest tally showed at least 517 structures destroyed and another 135 damaged, with the fire having consumed 139 square miles (360 square kilometers).

As of now, 500 structures have been destroyed and 80, acres have been charred from the Carr Fire, which is only 5% contained.

With so many people kept away from their homes, authorities are patrolling the areas and intend to arrest anyone who is found in the evacuation zones. "Within 15 minutes, it burned my house down", he recalled.


Mike Mangas, a spokesman at Mercy Medical Center, said the hospital was evacuating five babies in its neonatal intensive care unit, which cares for premature newborns, and taking them to medical facilities outside of the area.

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