Firefighters are still on the battlefield against a huge wildfire in Northern California. The massive blaze has displaced at least 38,000 people and now the death toll is at five.
The fire started on Monday and ripped through the Shasta County city of Redding on Friday. The span of the fire tripled overnight, scorching 127 square miles. According to a report released on Saturday by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the fire is only 5 percent contained.
Five people have lost their lives and there are still more than a dozen people who have been reported missing, according to Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko.
Sherry Bledsoe told The Associated Press about the death of her grandmother, 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe, and her two children, 5-year-old James Roberts and 4-year-old Emily. They had been among those who had been missing.
“My babies are dead,” a tearful Sherry Bledsoe told the AP. Her two children were trapped with their great-grandmother after the blaze consumed the family’s rural home near Redding.
The terrifying deaths were documented by Capital Public Radio’s Bob Moffitt Ed Bledsoe, the husband of Melody spoke of the moment she called him for help.
“She called and she said, ‘You need to come home right now. The fire’s right next to our house. And I said, ‘I’m comin’ and I throwed my stuff down and I took off and I burned rubber and got all the way up there, and then they wouldn’t let me go in there to get em.”
Bledsoe said he lost hope when he couldn’t find his loved ones at a local shelter he’d been directed to, Moffitt says.
The deaths of the three family members are in addition to two firefighters who died Friday working to combat the flames.
Cal Fire ordered more evacuations Saturday around the city of Redding, home to about 92,000 people. The state agency says the fire has destroyed at least 500 structures, with thousands more at risk.
— CAL FIRE SHU (@CALFIRESHU) July 28, 2018
The Carr Fire is currently the state’s largest burning wildfire. On Saturday, President Trump issued an emergency declaration for the state to grant areas affected by wildfires to receive federal aid.
In addition to winds, record-breaking heat and dry conditions propelling the blaze, the wildfire’s unusual behavior is making efforts to contain it difficult. “I don’t know why it’s doing what it’s doing,” Cal Fire Chief Steve Crawford tells the AP. “It’s burning in every direction all at the same time. … It’s burning as if it’s got strong wind on it even when there’s no wind.”