Five Dead as California Wildfire Consumes More Homes

Justin Sullivan

The toll in northern California's blaze has risen to six, officials announced on Sunday. They took all the defensive measures they could and evacuated Thursday before the order.

Authorities were also investigating at least 18 missing-persons reports, though many of them may simply be people who have not checked in with friends or family, police said.

Melody Bledsoe and her two great-grandchildren, 4-year-old Emily and 5-year-old James, were confirmed dead on Saturday after the Carr fire engulfed their home.

"Grandma did everything she could to save them she hovered over them both with a wet blanket", Woodley said in a Facebook post. The Carr Fire, which is the largest of 17 wildfires burning in California, has destroyed or damaged more than 1,000 structures in Shasta and Trinity Counties, about 150 miles north of Sacramento.

The wildfire, one of more than a dozen burning across California amid a hotter-than-average summer, has driven thousands of people out of their homes.

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said the sixth reported death was of an unidentified man who received an evacuation notice but did not leave.

Bledsoe said even though the family was not told to evacuate, he feels more guilty than angry.

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Two children and their great-grandmother were among the casualties on Saturday.

High temperatures, low humidity and increased winds are all in the forecast, setting the stage for more explosive fire behavior, Chris Harvey with the Cal Fire Incident Management Team said Sunday.

The sheriff has said the fire was moving fast, but authorities still alerted residents in a variety of ways, including going door-to-door and using loudspeakers on emergency vehicles.

"I was talking to my little grandson on the phone (and) he was saying, 'Grandpa, please, you gotta come and help us, the fire's at the back door, '" Mr Bledsoe said.

Firefighter Jason Campbell was on the front lines Thursday near Yosemite when the Carr Fire destroyed his home, an RV and a boat near Redding. The so-called Carr Fire, about 150 miles north of Sacramento, has grown to almost 150 square miles and is only 17 percent contained. The sheriff cited evidence that door-to-door notifications were made in the area.

In Mariposa County, where firefighters have spent weeks battling the Ferguson fire, officials reported that a firefighter based at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks died after being struck by a falling tree.

Bledsoe said he did not know his home was in danger when he left his wife and great-grandchildren to run an errand on Thursday.

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Analysts at KBW said that so far they expect primary insurers to shoulder the bulk of the losses, but should the fire continue to spread or others break out reinsurance contracts will increasingly come into play and aggregate deductibles may begin to get eroded.

"Winds in the area of the fires will be locally gusty, with gusts up to 25 miles per hour".

Fire officials said Monday they hope to lift evacuation orders to let residents back into their homes.

The Carr Fire burns west of Redding, Calif., on July 28, 2018.

He said when the couple first got together, she had about $24,000 in the bank.

The Carr Fire broke out last Monday near a small California community called Shasta.

Keswick, a mountain town of about 450 people, was nearly burned to the ground, officials said.

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Cal Fire Division Chief Charlie Blankenheim said he expected significant growth as the fire pushed into the Mendocino National Forest.

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