Children, Great-grandmother Die in California Wildfire

30 July, 2018, 14:26 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Melody Bledsoe died along with her great-grandchildren James and Emily

Officials said on Saturday that they had found the remains of three people - believed to be a woman and her two young great-grandchildren.

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Driven by gale-force winds Thursday night, it exploded into a firestorm that leaped the Sacramento River and engulfed whole neighborhoods in and around Redding, sending thousands of people fleeing for their lives in a chaotic evacuation.

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, July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif.

A deadly Northern California wildfire that destroyed hundreds of homes in and around the city of Redding expanded into more rural areas Saturday where scorching heat, winds and bone-dry conditions complicated firefighting efforts. At least 500 homes, businesses and other structures have been destroyed by the fast-moving fire, while 75 others have been damaged.

The dead were identified as 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe and her great-grandchildren, 5-year-old James Roberts and 4-year-old Emily Roberts.

The Carr Fire continued to sweep through the area in and around Redding, Calif.

"Grandma did everything she could to save them", Bledsoe's granddaughter, Amanda Woodley, wrote in a Facebook post after Shasta County Sheriff's officials confirmed the deaths to relatives.

A reporter with Redding television station KRCR choked up as she reported live updates about the fire before the station had to go off the air later.

"My nephew called, scared, for help, but they said they couldn't make it in time", said Carla Bledsoe, the children's aunt.

Bledsoe's husband, Ed, wasn't home when the fire struck, according to an online fundraiser created by another family member. A GoFundMe page set up by the children's family said the three were last heard from Thursday as flames closed in on the neighborhood. Ed Bledsoe told the Sacramento Bee that he spoke to the children on the phone as he raced in vain to return in time to save them.

Redding Police Sergeant Todd Cogle stressed that the number of those unaccounted for had fluctuated during the past two days - from as many as 20 to as few as 12 - as some who were reported missing turned up safe while others were added to the list.

Two firefighters - Redding Fire Inspector Jeremy Stoke and Don Ray Smith, a privately hired bulldozer operator - were killed trying to contain the blaze, which will probably be larger than the city of Philadelphia before the weekend is up.

The explosive blaze reached the city of Redding on Thursday night.

A wooden structure burns on the south edge of the Carr Fire near Igo, California, U.S. July 29, 2018.

The fire started Monday, its origin traced to the "mechanical failure" of a vehicle in Whiskeytown, which is about 10 miles northwest of Redding, officials said.

Another 5000 buildings are threatened, Cal Fire said.

Jason, a firefighter, was six hours away from his home and family, battling a wildfire near Yosemite Valley, when the Carr Fire moved in with devastating speed.

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.

Four evacuation centers have been opened in the area.

"We didn't think the fire was going to come here, so we didn't really take things out like everyone else that was scrambling at the last minute to get out when we saw fire on the ridge", Dominic Galvin said.

The declarations issued Thursday state that hot temperatures, erratic wind and low humidity have increased the spread of both fires.

Firefighters are getting no relief from the weather. High temperatures in Redding were expected to hit 43°C and continue at that level through Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.



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