LOS ANGELES – At least six people have died in a fire that has ravaged a large swath of northern California and which remained out of control on Sunday amid dry weather conditions that were severely hampering efforts to control the blaze.
The Carr Fire was just 17 percent contained on Sunday night, having burned over 95,000 acres (38,000 hectares).
Tom Bosenko, the sheriff of Shasta County, where the Carr Fire has been raging since last Monday, told reporters that the blaze had killed at least six people, including two firefighters, while seven others were missing.
Cheryl Buliavac, a spokesperson for California’s forestry and forest fire prevention department (CalFire), told EFE that “the weather (on Sunday) was a factor that is really influencing the behavior of the fire and the ability to control it.”
A CalFire incident update said that the “extreme fire conditions” showed no signs of abating, and that “shifting winds, dry fuels and steep drainages” were contributing to the blaze’s “rapid growth.”
According to the National Weather Service, “a dangerous heat wave will continue from California to the Pacific Northwest early this week. Triple digit heat combined with dry humidity will only exacerbate the ongoing wildfire situation in California.”
Among the six fatalities in the Carr Fire are 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe and two of her grandchildren, ages 4 and 5, who all died in the family home on Saturday.
According to CalFire, 657 structures (both homes and other buildings) have been destroyed in the blaze and another 145 damaged.
The fire broke out on July 23 due to a vehicle “mechanical failure” – presumably an engine fire.
Meanwhile, authorities in Riverside County announced on Friday the arrest of a man accused of starting the Cranston Fire, which has destroyed 4,700 hectares.
Brandon McGlover, 32, faces 15 criminal charges and is being held on $1 million bail, the county prosecutor’s office said.
US President Donald Trump declared on Saturday a state of emergency in California and ordered the federal government to provide additional assistance, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts, the White House said in a statement.