Firefighters battle 17 wildfires across California, other U.S. states and Canada

Firefighters battle 17 wildfires across California, other U.S. states and Canada

Firefighters battle 17 wildfires across California, other U.S. states and Canada

A bulldozer operator as well as a member of the Redding Fire Department were killed in the blaze.

Authorities confirmed Saturday that Melody Bledsoe, 70, and her great-grandchildren Emily and James Roberts, ages 4 and 5, respectively, died in the blaze.

The fire, which created at least two flaming tornados that toppled trees, shook firefighting equipment and busted truck windows, took "down everything in its path", said Scott McLean, a spokesman for Cal Fire, the state agency responsible for fighting wildfires.

A Go Fund Me effort launched overnight to help Ed Bledsoe had raised nearly half its $30,000 goal by midday on Sunday.

At least six other people were still listed as missing as of Saturday morning, according to CBS San Francisco.

The fire has destroyed more than 500 buildings and is threatening thousands more. Triple-digit temperatures and dry vegetation are making it hard for crews to corral the blaze. Thursday night CAL FIRE reported the fire had burned 28,000 acres.

Fed up, Tim Bollman, hiked 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) up steep terrain to check on the home he built for his wife and two sons 13 years ago.

Despite the California National Guard is operating two C-130 tankers capable of dropping 3,000 gallons of retardant on each pass and Reaper Unmanned Aerial System drones to real-time imagery to coordinate ground efforts for 3,410 firefighters, the Carr Fire is only 5 percent contained and spreading in all directions. It said the elderly couple had been caring for the great-grandchildren for years in their rental home.

Redding resident Tim Bollman hiked four miles to check on his home, only to find it had been completely destroyed. More than 160 fire departments from California and around the country have been deployed to help quell the week-long blaze.

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 around Redding was among 17 significant blazes in the state on Sunday that had forced roughly 50,000 people from their homes, said Lynne Tolmachoff, a Cal Fire spokeswoman.

Hundreds of miles to the south, the Cranston Fire grew to 7.5 square miles and about 3,000 residents remained under evacuation orders in Idyllwild and several neighboring communities.

Chris Anthony, deputy chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the Carr Fire has scorched 125 square miles.

"I don't even have any more tears to cry", Decker said. The flames ripped through northwest Shasta County then spread southeast, sweeping across the Sacramento River late Thursday and roaring toward the city limits of Redding, which is home to 92,000.

The blaze has also destroyed 517 structures and damaged 135 more. The blaze has destroyed at least 536 structures, damaged another 117 and was threatening almost 5,000 others, officials said.

The fire, which started on Monday, also killed Don Ray Smith, an 81-year-old bulldozer operator who was working with fire crews to try to bring the fire under control, officials said.

Greg and Terri Hill evacuated their Redding home of 18 years Thursday night with little more than their medications, photo albums, clothes and firearms, assuming they'd be back home in a few days.

Anna Noland, 49, was evacuated twice in three days before learning through video footage that her house had burned. "That just shows that she did everything she could 'til the very end", Decker said.

It was pushing southwest of Redding on Saturday, toward the tiny communities of Ono, Igo and Gas Point.

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