Previous wildfire in Simi Valley, Southern California Photo: Senior Master Sgt. Dennis W. Goff / US Air Force

Deadly Californian wildfire widens its reach to almost 100,000 acres

July 30th, 2018

Six people have been killed and over 650 homes destroyed in a wildfire three times the size of San Francisco that continues to rage in California.

In its latest update sent out last night, the California Department of Fire Protection said that the fast-moving Carr Fire has now spread to 38,500 hectares (95,000 acres).

Despite working tirelessly over the past week, the fire services have only been able to contain 17 per cent of the blaze in Shasta County, the department said.

A Red Flag Warning and heat advisory are in effect for the area as shifting winds, dry fuels and steep drainages contributed to rapid growth. The fire started a week ago after a vehicle suffered mechanical failure in the area, officials said.

Shasta County sheriff Tom Bosenko confirmed yesterday that the wildfire has so far killed six people. Among the victims are two firefighters, a grandmother (70) and her two grandchildren (four and five) who got trapped in their house in Redding last Thursday.

Redding Police Sgt. Todd Cogle said: “We’re finding that there are a lot of communication issues. We spoke with several people who left their cell phones at their residences and in this day and age people don’t remember people’s phone numbers.”

Over 38,000 people have been evacuated and don’t know if they will find their house when they return, with 657 residential structures destroyed by the flames.

This morning, new locations for mandatory evacuation have been listed and an additional animal evacuation and shelter service has also been put in place in the county.

Cases of looting have been reported and police are patrolling neighbours in the nearby city of Redding, with police patrols out in force.

On Saturday, Donald Trump declared the fire an emergency and authorized federal funds for disaster relief efforts.

The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, also declared a state of emergency in Mendocino, Lake and Napa Counties as fires have “destroyed homes, threatened critical infrastructure and caused the evacuation of residents”.

According to the National Interagency Fire Centre, 90 large fires are currently burning across 400,000 hectares (1m acres) in 14 states. Eight of the fires are in California, of which the Carr Fire is the latest.

The fires affecting Mendocino and Lake Counties have burnt 24,700 hectares (61,000 acres), according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. In Napa County, 60 hectares (150 acres) have been burned.

Fires in Mariposa County are estimated to have destroyed 22,000 hectares (54,480 acres) of land and led to the closure of the Yosemite National Park. Over 7,000 people were evacuated following fires in Riverside County that have destroyed 5,300 hectares (13,000 acres) of land.

Some of the fires taking place in California are suspected to be arson cases. A 32-year-old man has been arrested this weekend and is accused to have started nine fires. He has pleaded not guilty.

About the Author

Charline Fernandez

Charline is French and an MA journalism student at DCU. She has an interest in the environment, animals rights and rock music.