9 dead, thousands of acres burned in California wildfires

A wildfire raging across Northern California has killed six people, including two firefighters and three family members, and burned more than 110,000 acres since July 23, according to state fire officials.

Officials said three other people have been killed, bringing the death toll in the state to nine.

>> Photos: Carr Fire burns in Northern California 

Update 1:55 p.m. EDT Aug. 5: A crew member for a California utility company was killed in a vehicle accident Saturday night while working in a wilderness accident near Redding, The Sacramento Bee reported Sunday.

The crew member, Jarius Ayeta, 21, was an apprentice lineman for the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, the newspaper reported.

“Crews in a remote area with dangerous terrain were performing (power) restoration work when a crew member suffered an accident and a fatal injury in western Shasta County,” PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi said Sunday morning.

Update 10:50 a.m. EDT July 31: Firefighters said the Carr Fire had burned 115,500 acres in Shasta and Trinity counties by Wednesday morning as authorities continued working to tamp down the blaze.

Officials said the fire, which has claimed six lives, was 35 percent contained as of 7 a.m. local time.

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Update 9:15 p.m. EDT July 31: Two more deaths have been reported in another California wildfire, the Ferguson Fire, which is burning in Mariposa County south of the Carr Fire, according to news reports.

Also Tuesday, authorities said 16 of 20 missing people in the Carr fire in Shasta and Trinity Counties in Northern California have been found alive.

Four people are still missing, according to KGTV.

More than 1,200 homes, businesses and other buildings have been destroyed in the Carr fire, which is just under 30 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

Blazing heat and scorching temperatures are making it difficult to battle more than a dozen fires raging across the state.

The large blazes are creating their own weather systems, complicating firefighting efforts even more.

Update 11:30 a.m. EDT July 31: The Carr Fire scorched more than 110,000 acres in Shasta and Trinity counties by Tuesday morning. Officials said in an update issued around 7 a.m. local time that the blaze was 27 percent contained.

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The fire is believed to be the ninth most destructive in state history.

Update 10:20 a.m. EDT July 31: About 10,000 homes in Northern California are threatened by twin wildfires across Mendocino and Lake counties, according to The Associated Press.

Seven homes were burned Monday night, about 100 miles below the Carr Fire.

Update 9:10 a.m. EDT July 31: Fire officials said Monday night that the deadly Carr Fire has burned more than 103,000 acres of land. The blaze is 23 percent contained.

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The fire is expected to grow, bolstered by heavy winds, the hot and dry weather, flames reaching fresh fuel that has yet to be burned and steep terrain, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

More than 1,300 buildings have been damaged or destroyed by the flames, including more than 950 homes.

Update 8:00 p.m EDT July 30: In addition to the six people who have lost their lives in the deadly Carr Fire since it started a week ago, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told a local newspaper Monday that 19 people are missing, up from seven early Monday.

Some evacuations orders were lifted Monday afternoon in parts of Shasta County as dozens of firefighters continued battling the the out-of-control blaze in triple-digit temperatures reaching as high as 113 degrees.

Despite the horrific conditions, Cal Fire Incident Commander Bret Gouvea told The Associated Press he thinks firefighters are slowly gaining the upper hand against the blazing inferno.

“We’re feeling a lot more optimistic today as we are starting to gain some ground rather than be in the defensive mode all the time,” Gouvea said.

Update 12:45 p.m. EDT July 30: Evacuation orders have been lifted for parts of Northern California threatened by the raging Carr Fire, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The unified commanders of California Incident Management Team 4 and the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks will hold a briefing Monday to honor Capt. Brian Hughes, one of the firefighters killed as efforts to contain the blaze continue.

Update 10:40 a.m. EDT July 30: The deadly Carr Fire has scorched more than 98,000 acres of land, up 3,000 acres from the number reported Sunday night, firefighters said in an update issued around 7 a.m. local time Monday.

The fire, which has claimed at least six lives, was 20 percent contained Monday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. More than 880 homes have been destroyed or damaged, fire officials said. More than 250 other buildings have also been damaged or destroyed.

Update 8:50 a.m. EDT July 30: The deadly Carr Fire in Shasta County has grown to cover more than 95,000 acres with 17 percent containment by Sunday night, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Flames have destroyed more than 650 homes and damaged 145 others, officials said. Hundreds of other building have also been destroyed or damaged. Authorities continue working to assess damage and control the blaze.

Update 7:25 p.m. EDT July 29: A sixth person has died in the Carr Fire which has destroyed more than 500 buildings and burned about 139 square miles.

The victim, who has not been identified, did not evacuate despite warnings, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Besenko told The Associated Press.

Update 11:36 a.m. EDT July 29: In Trinity County, the small community of Lewiston was evacuated late Saturday, The Sacramento Bee reported Sunday.

“It is crazy to think that just a few days ago the south side of (Highway) 299 was practically untouched,” California Highway Patrol Sgt. Tim Hickson said in a Facebook Live post early Sunday. “Now driving up it is glowing bright red on both sides of 299.”

Temperatures in Redding were expected to drop slightly Sunday, with a high of 106 degrees forecasted. Winds are expected to blow between 3 mph to 9 mph, the Bee reported.

The death toll remains at five, including Melody Bledsoe, 70, and her great-grandchildren, James Roberts, 5 and Emily Roberts, 4, according to KDRV.  Also killed were Redding fire inspector Jeremy Stoke, 37, and private bulldozer operator Don Ray Smith, 81, according to the Bee.

Update 5:25 p.m. EDT July 28:  The bodies of the children and their great-grandmother were found in the rubble of a burned home Saturday, KDRV reported.

The victims were Melody Bledsoe, 70, James Roberts, 5 and Emily Roberts, 4, according to KDRV.

Update 3:45 p.m. EDT July 27: Three Marin County firefighters who were injured Thursday while battling the Carr Fire in Shasta County have been treated for their injuries and released from a hospital, officials said.

The firefighters were treated for burns to their ears, face and hands at Mercy Medical Center Redding, according to authorities. One of the firefighters was being further evaluated Friday at the UC Davis Burn Center.

The trio was injured by a “sudden blast of heat from vegetation adjacent to a structure,” Marin County fire officials said in a news release.

The injured firefighters were identified as engineer Scott Pederson, 39, a 19-year veteran of the department; firefighter Tyler Barnes, 34, who has been with the department for four years and firefighter Brian Cardoza, 26, who joined the Marin County Fire Department three months ago.

Two other firefighters have died as authorities continued Friday to battle the blaze.

“At this time, we are focusing on the health of our firefighters and ensuring peer support is in place for the members of our strike team,” Marin County fire Chief Jason Weber said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the two firefighters that lost their lives yesterday battling the same fire.”

Update 2 p.m. EDT July 27: Officials with Mercy Medical Center Redding said eight people have been treated at the hospital for injuries they sustained in the Carr Fire.

Mercy Medical Center spokesman Mike Mangas said the patients included three firefighters. None of the injuries appeared to be serious, Mangas said.

At least two people have been killed as flames continued to burn Friday in Shasta County

Update 11:15 a.m. EDT July 27: The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a Redding firefighter has died while battling the blaze in Shasta County, raising the death toll to two.

The fire has continued to grow amid triple-digit temperatures and heavy winds in the region, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"These firefighters, they're going for the attack and then they get beat back up by the erratic fire," Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean told the Chronicle. "It's just intense."

The Redding firefighter was not immediately identified. Earlier, authorities said a contract firefighter who was operating a bulldozer was killed while battling the flames.

Original report: A contract firefighter operating a bulldozer was killed and three others were injured Thursday night as a rapidly moving wildfire in northern California continued to rage, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The Carr Fire in Shasta County swept over the Sacramento River and into the city of Redding, prompting officials to order evacuations, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The fire began Monday afternoon after a vehicle malfunction, according to Cal Fire.

“The fire has burned into the west side of Redding,” Scott McLean, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told the newspaper late Thursday. “Structures are burning.

“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.”

The California Highway Patrol told residents in the western parts of Redding to "get out now," the Chronicle reported.

“The Carr Fire continues to burn at a rapid rate with erratic fire behavior,” Cal Fire said in a statement.

At 2:30 a.m., Cal Fire ordered additional evacuations for Shasta Lake City, Summit City, the Shasta Dam Visitor Center and all of Shasta Dam Boulevard, the Bee reported.

Meanwhile, Amtrak train service between Sacramento and Oregon was suspended due to the fire, the Bee reported.

Officials decided Friday morning to stop service for the Coast Starlight train, which operates daily from Los Angeles to Seattle, the newspaper reported.

“Customers with reservations on trains that are being modified will typically be accommodated on trains with similar departure times or another day,” Amtrak said in a statement.

KCRC in Redding was broadcasting live when station employees were forced to evacuate while on the air, according to The Associated Press.

On Thursday, firefighters tried to contain the blaze but flames kept jumping over their lines, McLean said.

“It’s just a heck of a fight," McLean said. "They're doing what they can do and they get pushed out in a lot of cases. We're fighting the fight right now."

Cal Fire confirmed that a private bulldozer operator was killed but provided no other information, the Bee reported.

“We can confirm that we had additional firefighters and civilian injuries,” Cal Fire Chief Brett Gouvea said Thursday night. “This fire is making a significant push into the northwest area of Redding.

“This fire is extremely dangerous and moving with no regard to what’s in its path.”

The blaze began Monday afternoon near Whiskeytown in Shasta County, KCRA reported. The fire has burned 28,763 acres, the television station reported.