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17 missing as monster wildfire spreads

30 July 2018

More than 50,000 people have been evacuated in Northern California bushfires that have killed five, including two children and their great-grandmother, as fire crews battled on to quell flames that have destroyed entire neighbourhoods.

The death toll climbed to six, and authorities anxious that another forecast for high winds could fan the flames even further.

Firefighters and police "went into life-safety mode", hustling door to door to usher civilians out of harm's way, said Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).

"We did everything right", Laura Rathe said.

He added, "Any event could bring this back up again".

More than 3,400 firefighters have been sent out- but the local fire department has warned that hot, dry weather is forecast for the rest of the week, and could make the blaze worse.

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"The family that lives in town are all together mourning three awesome souls", Woodley wrote.

"I think I'm still in shock", Noland said. "You're frightened a little bit because you don't know if you're going to come back to your house and the town is going to be different".

A woman and her two great-grandchildren who had been missing since Thursday died in Northern California's deadly Carr Fire, according to their relatives.

Bledsoe's husband, Ed, wasn't home when the fire struck, according to an online fundraiser created by another family member. It exploded Thursday, jumped the Sacramento River and entered the Redding city limits.

The fire grew by about 35 percent overnight to 328 square kilometers and pushed southwest of Redding, toward the communities of Ono, Igo and Gas Point.

Map showing the perimeter of the Carr Fire at 1:45 a.m. PDT July 28, 2018. The fire was 5 percent contained by Sunday morning, with advances expected before nightfall.

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Firefighters in Napa Valley also worked to contain the Steele fire which had burned 150 acres and destroyed 7 structures. On Friday an Associated Press reporter counted at least 125 burned homes.

"With heavy hearts we announce the passing of Fire Inspector Jeremy Stoke", the Redding Fire Department said in a statement.

According to the AFP, "Two young children and their 70-year-old great-grandmother Melody Bledsoe died in the Carr Fire, their family confirmed to United States media".

The three bodies have yet to be positively identified, but their discovery raises the confirmed death toll from the Carr Fire to five, including a bulldozer operator and a firefighter who was killed when the blaze swept into Redding, about 160 miles north of Sacramento, two days ago.

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said he expects to find several of those people alive and just out of touch with loved ones.

Bosenko said authorities are still looking for seven people after finding nine others who had been reported missing. Thousands of firefighter are battling the blaze, and 17 helicopters are dropping water in an attempt to dampen the fires. For the Fire Chief, conditions are unsafe: "Extreme is not even the right adjective to use any more it is just an understatement because fire is so explosive now in California".

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Authorities also estimated around 38,000 people have been evacuated as of Friday.

The Carr fire - the largest wildfire now burning - has consumed more than 89,000 acres, destroyed 517 structures and damaged 135 others.

"It's a hard fire to deal with", Austin said, noting the weather was hot and the terrain rugged.

One of the California fires prompted a rare closure of much of Yosemite National Park last week, while another forced mass evacuations from the mountain resort community of Idyllwild, east of Los Angeles.

The fire also reportedly burned structures in Shasta, located 10 miles west of Redding, and in Keswick.

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17 missing as monster wildfire spreads