Two dead, nine missing as thousands evacuate fierce 80,000 acre fire near Redding, California

Redding fire
Even though the Carr Fire has grown in size, firefighters have made progress in creating defensive lines allowing thousands to return to their homes. Cal Fire Photo.

Redding, California – update – 38,000 residents have fled and fresh evacuations have been ordered on Saturday as the wildfire doubles to 80,000 acres around Redding.

Two evacuation orders were issued as the fierce fire fuelled by winds and heat keeps racing out of control on Saturday.

End of update:

Thousands of residents have been evacuated as a fierce wildfire jumped a river and roared into sections of Redding, a city of 90,000.

Worried people are trying to account for relatives as the 48,000-acre fire forced mandatory evacuations of all of Shasta Lake city and even segments of Redding. Two people, including a fire inspector, have been killed while there are reported to be many injuries among firemen and civilians.

In many areas, animals have been freed up as people fled their homes.

Redding is the largest city along the Northern California I-5 corridor. The freeway bisects the town of 90,000.

On social media, family members are pleading for information about loved ones they’ve not heard from. Some fear their loved ones may have become trapped in burning structures.

Many others are offering to house displaced people, others are offering places for large and small animals.

The fire is so fierce that it’s unleashing flaming tornadoes. The temperature in triple digits and winds being sucked in from coastal California is fuelling the fire that has destroyed 500 structures including homes, barns and garages and is threatening another 5,000 buildings.

A late briefing issued on Thursday by California fire authority showed 3410 fire personnel are involved in what essentially is a containment measure. In addition 382 fire engines are involved, along with 17 helicopters, aircraft and 62 bulldozers.

“Firefighters worked aggressively through the day to build containment lines around the Carr Fire. Continued hot dry weather is forecasted for the remainder of the weekend with triple digit temperatures. The winds, high temperatures and dry vegetation still have the potential to fuel fire growth. The number of damaged and destroyed structures reflected may change,” a spokesman said.

The Redding fire department reported the death of a fire inspector. It’s also reported that a bulldozer driver was killed while fighting the fire. There are a number of other casualties in local hospitals.

“With heavy hearts we announce the passing of Fire Inspector Jeremy Stoke. Jeremy died while battling the Carr Fire. We ask for your thoughts and prayers for his family and the RFD as we process this tragic loss. More information will be released as it becomes available,” the Redding fire department said.

More than 800 national guard troops have joined the thousands involved in battling the fire and arranging evacuations. For those travelling down I-5, the latest is that the freeway is open but crowded with fire engines, police, military vehicles and people evacuating from Shasta Lake City, Redding and other areas.