A wildfire raging through northern California claimed six victims, including a 70-year-old woman and her two great-grandchildren, said officials and family members on Sunday. The deceased also included a person who died at a house engulfed by the fire and two firefighters, reported Reuters.
Tom Bosenko, Shasta County Sheriff near Redding city at the edge of the blaze, said authorities were still looking for seven people having located nine reported missing earlier.
More than 38,000 people have been under mandatory evacuation orders in and around Redding, around 257 kilometres north of state capital Sacramento.
The Carr Fire started on July 23 after a vehicle suffered a mechanical failure, reported CBS News. Aided by winds and dry vegetation, it spread rapidly, burnt down more than 650 homes in the area, and is the most destructive of nearly 90 wildfires burning from Texas to Oregon. The fire doubled in size to more than 80,000 acres between Friday night and Saturday morning, reported Los Angeles Times. By Sunday, the fire had consumed more than 89,000 acres.
However, it slowed down a little by evening, giving officials a semblance of hope, reported CBS News. “We are feeling a lot more optimistic today as we are starting to gain some ground rather than being in a defensive mode on this fire all the time,” said Bret Gouvea, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s incident commander at Redding.
Hot conditions and erratic winds have hampered firefighting efforts, said Los Angeles Times, and a red flag warning and heat advisory will be effective till Monday. Daniel Potter, a spokesperson with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said firefighters were aiming to protect buildings on the eastern and southeastern edges of the fire. He said that crews with bulldozers were trying to set up more fire lines. “If there’s limited winds, it gives us the chance to get on the fire’s edge and try to stop it,” he said.
More than 3,500 firefighters and a sqaudron of 17 water-dropping helicopters managed to create buffer lines around 5% of the fire’s perimeter by Sunday, said Reuters. Wildfires have ravaged almost 4.3 million acres of land across the United States so far this year.