1 person killed in Northern California wildfire

Noel Cummings
July 27, 2018

- A miscommunication Friday from Shasta County authorities is being blamed for alerting the community of Shasta Lake that they were not under mandatory evacuations from the Carr Fire, only for Cal Fire to say moments later that they were.

Residents in the western part of Redding who had not been under evacuation orders were caught off guard and had to flee with little notice. The fire has destroyed at least 15 structures so far, however, that number is expected to rise significantly, Scott McLean, spokesman for Cal Fire, told CNN. Firefighters and others on hand are dealing with extremely dry conditions and unsafe temperature, which are expected to reach 110 fahrenheit on Friday (July 26).

Firefighters tried in vain to build containment around the blaze Thursday, but flames kept jumping their lines, he said.

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

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Three firefighters have been injured, although the details of their injuries are unknown said Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean.

The Carr Fire is one of 88 burning nationally, mostly across the American west. They said the fire behavior has been erratic and unfavorable weather conditions have made progress hard. Braden Varney, 36, a heavy fire equipment operator, was killed while batting another blaze near Yosemite National Park.

Officials said they had dispatched more than 1,700 fire personnel, including dozens of fire crews, more than 100 fire engines along with bulldozers, helicopters and vehicles to deliver water.

A firefighter watches flames advance up a hill towards homes as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2018.

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"This fire is extremely risky and is moving with no regard to what's on its path", Cal Fire Incident Commander Chief Brett Gouvea told reporters. The wildfire has demolished dozens of homes, forcing thousands to evacuate. Winds reaching 60 miles per hour are creating firenadoes strong enough to overturn vehicles, authorities said.

Sharon Stapleton of Shasta, Calif., said she and her husband were awakened when law enforcement officials came to their door in the middle of the night telling them to evacuate.

"We were all peeling out of there as fast as we could", he told KNBC-TV.

"We thought earlier our house was okay, but now we don't know", Stapleton said. Power went out at the Record Searchlight newspaper, while the news station KRCR had to evacuate its offices for a period of time. Jerry Brown declared states of emergency for the three largest fires, which will authorize the state to rally resources to local governments.

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Yosemite Valley, the scenic heart of the national park, was closed at noon Wednesday during the height of tourist season as smoke cast a pall on the region from a fire in the Sierra Nevada.

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