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Two children and their great-grandmother were killed in the massive Carr Fire in Northern California’s Shasta County, according to NBC Bay Area, which confirmed the news with a family member.
Five-year-old James Roberts, 4-year-old Emily Roberts and great-grandmother Melody Bledsoe were preparing to evacuate a home in Redding, California, and had called police when the fire struck and all three perished, according to the report.
At a news conference Saturday, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said only that three members of the same family had been reported missing. About a dozen people have been reported missing in the area so far, he said.
Two other people, a Redding firefighter and a private hire dozer operator, have been killed in the fire, officials said.
The Carr Fire, which broke out Monday afternoon, nearly doubled in size from 48,312 acres Friday night to 83,800 acres Saturday, with containment only at 5 percent, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
Fresh evacuations were ordered Saturday for some residents of Shasta County, as the Carr Fire raged for the third day. The blaze has destroyed 536 homes or other structures and damaged 117 others, officials said.
The Shasta County fire has forced as many as 38,000 residents to evacuate and as many as 6,000 homes are threatened, officials said. The 3,400 firefighters assigned to the blaze had a perimeter of about 100 miles to cover, they said.
Some of those who survived the fire returned to their destroyed homes. Christine and Michael Robinson surveyed the remains of a Redding house that had been in his family since 1959. Their daughter was married there.
They described the property, which they moved into in 2008 and poured everything they had into fixing up, as “an oasis” where friends, family, grandkids and their friends would visit.
Michael Robinson lost his trucking company after the 2001 stock market crash, and he said “we were going to grow old and die here.” At 53 years old, he said “I’ve got to start over again.”
“It was paradise. We love it,” he said, surveying the wreckage on Saturday. “And now it looks like a bomb went off.”
“I don’t want to stand here and cry over it, because it’s just stuff, you know?” Michael Robinson said. “Everybody’s healthy, I’ve got wonderful kids and grandkids. I’m a wealthy man still.”
Redding police Chief Roger Moore said looters are taking advantage.
“We’re seeing several reports a day of people in neighborhood, driving through, going through road blocks that haven’t been burnt, looking to steal items from homes,” he told reporters Saturday. “If you have time, take your valuables out of the home or put them in a fireproof safe.”
The Carr Fire is believed to have started as a result of the mechanical failure of a vehicle, Cal Fire said. It started at around 1:15 p.m. on Monday.
Officials have identified the Redding firefighter killed battling the blaze as Fire Inspector Jeremy Stoke. The dozer operator who was killed was identified as Don Ray Smith, 81, of Pollack Pines, California, according to KNTV.
Fourteen large fires were raging statewide — from San Diego County to Modoc County — as President Trump on Saturday declared a state of emergency in California. The governor’s Office of Emergency Services, which yesterday reported that 102,028 had burned in the week’s fires, now states 155,000 acres have gone up in smoke across the Golden State.
An army of 10,000 firefighters were assigned to blazes across California, according to Cal Fire.
On Friday officials at Yosemite National Park announced the venue would reopen Aug. 3 after being closed as a result of a 49,619-acre fire that is now nearly one-third contained, according to Cal Fire.
Cal Fire officials say the fires have been feeding off brush starved by more than a half-decade’s worth of drought and then baked by the second record-setting heat wave of summer. Temperatures in Redding, the urban epicenter of the Carr Fire, were expected to reach 110 degrees today, according to the National Weather Service.
On Friday Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott, the state’s top fire official, said residents should get out immediately when ordered to do so.
“Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate,” he said. “Pay very close attention to social media, websites, local television and radio broadcasts.”
Christine Robinson, who lost her home in Redding, said that Redding felt like a place where one could livce “the California dream.”
“Everyone in Redding has lost something,” she said. “This has really been devastating to the entire community.”
“We’re all prepared for fire here. You know, everyone understands,” she said. “But this is a monster of a fire. It is very scary. Very scary. I hope everyone stays safe.”