Wildfire explodes into Northern California community; 2 dead

July 27 (UPI) — A raging wildfire has killed two people in Northern California near its border with Oregon, destroyed buildings and forced evacuations after it jumped the Sacramento River.

The Carr Fire, one of several burning in the state, tore through Shasta and Whiskeytown before reaching Redding, a city of about 92,000. Two people so far — a Redding firefighter and a private bulldozer operator — have died.

The fire has destroyed at least 65 structures and tripled in size over two days. It has so far burned 45,000 acres and is just 3 percent contained, Cal Fire said early Friday.

“Structures are burning,” Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean told the Sacramento Bee late Thursday. “The fire is moving so fast that law enforcement is doing evacuations as fast as we can. There have been some injuries to civilians and firefighters.”

At least 1,700 firefighters are battling the fire.

The speed of the fire, triple-digit temperatures and dry weather conditions hampered firefighting efforts, and it was unclear if the burned structures were homes. Power was cut to parts of Redding to prevent electrical equipment from sparking more flames.

Evacuation orders expanded by the hour on Thursday night as an evacuation center opened at an area high school, which was later closed and moved to Shasta College. Redding’s Mercy Medical Center announced it would move patients in its neonatal intensive care unit. Vibra Hospital, which provides long-term care, said patients were evacuated. KRCR-TV went off the air so employees could abandon its studio. At Whiskeytown Lake, at least 40 boats burned and several homes were destroyed.

“Firefighters continue to work aggressively to build containment lines around the Carr Fire,” Cal Fire said late Thursday. “Their efforts have been hampered today due to extreme fire behavior and unfavorable weather conditions.”

Emergency personnel said they would stop fire containment to concentrate on evacuations in Redding. The California National Guard was summoned for help, the Bee reported.

“They’re trying to make a stand where they can, if possible,” McLean said of firefighters. “It’s extreme. It’s blowing up off and on again.

“It crossed the Sacramento River north of Redding from the reports we got. It’s within the city limits of Redding and it’s in an area of rolling hills, so it’s not house-to-house neighborhoods, but it’s burning into Redding and prompting immediate and urgent evacuations.”

Another fire around Yosemite National Park in central California has grown to 44,000 acres. It was 27 percent contained Thursday before it shifted toward the town of Mariposa, where it’s threatening about 5,200 structures, KFSN-TV reported.


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