Carr Fire Becomes 7th Most Destructive in California State History

Justin Sullivan

Also among those who died are Redding Fire Inspector Jeremy Stoke and Don Ray Smith, a privately hired bulldozer operator; both were killed while trying to contain the fire.

A pair of wildfires that prompted evacuation orders for almost 20,000 people barreled Monday toward small lake towns in Northern California, and authorities faced questions about how quickly they warned residents about the largest and deadliest blaze burning in the state.

The several large-scale blazes have turned around 200,000 acres (80,940 hectares) into an ashen wasteland, destroyed expensive homes, and killed eight fire personnel and civilians in the most populous USA state.

About 12,000 firefighters have been battling what is among California's deadliest inferno of the year so far, and multiple members of Lutz's family are part of the crew helping to fight the blaze. In all, some 10,000 people have been warned to flee, fire officials said. "That's all I can say".

Those fires were among 17 burning across the state, where fire crews were stretched to the limit. Ferguson has blackened almost 56,700 acres and is 30 percent contained, Cal Fire reports.

Authorities have also issued evacuation orders in Napa County, famous for its wine, after a fire destroyed eight structures.

The latest tally showed 517 destroyed structures and another 135 damaged, Mr Romero said, with the vast majority believed to be homes.

Firefighters are enduring hot temperatures and remain wary of the possibility of gusty winds, Anthony Romero, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said.

Authorities in California have reported levels of fire intensity and unpredictability they have seldom seen before.

More than 27,000 people remained evacuated from their homes although another 10,000 were allowed to return Monday as fire crews reinforced lines on the western end of Carr Fire.

In addition, major fires continue to burn outside Yosemite National Park and in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles near Palm Springs. Bledsoe's granddaughter, Amanda Woodley, said on Facebook the elderly woman desperately put a wet blanket over the children as their home burned.

Fed up, on Sunday morning Tim Bollman hiked 4 miles (6 kilometers) on trails up steep terrain to check on the Redding home he built for his wife and two sons 13 years ago. On Thursday, it swept through the historic Gold Rush town of Shasta and nearby Keswick, fueled by gusty winds and dry vegetation.

Ed Bledsoe had just left to run an errand when he received a phone call. Neither Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko or a spokesperson for the office responded to requests for comment Monday, but Bosenko told CBS News that officials are working to find out whether the Bledsoes were given a warning about the fire.

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