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Bulldozer driver killed in California wildfire

A private hire dozer operator died while battling the Carr Fire, a raging Northern California wildfire.

Posted: Jul 28, 2018 4:10 AM
Updated: Jul 28, 2018 4:30 AM

Officials were driving Friday through the smoldering remains of a neighborhood in the Northern California city of Redding, trying to determine the number of homes lost to a fast wildfire that also killed two people.

A CNN crew in one neighborhood estimated dozens of homes were nothing but piles of ash.

Residents and relatives were allowed back in to see whether there were items that could be salvaged or whether pets left behind could be found.

Chris Corona went to his parents' home to look for their cat, Jinx. The home was gone, but Jinx was there, safely hiding in a bush on a hillside not touched by the flames that killed all the other vegetation.

Corona wept as he thought of things they lost in the house.

"I can't believe it's gone. All those memories, childhood memories, " he said. "Stuff that parents save like stuff you built as a little kid for your mom. I'm just glad my mom got all the valuable stuff that she wanted out."

A neighbor had a similar experience: grabbed personal items in a hurry, forced to leave scared pet behind, returned to find dog alive.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, had authorities in the area assessing the damage.

The Carr Fire in Shasta County had ravaged the small communities of Shasta and Keswick before jumping the Sacramento River and burning houses on the outskirts of Redding, a city of 95,000 people 120 miles south of the California-Oregon border, according to Cal Fire.

The fast-growing wildfire forced mass evacuations as it moved into the city limits of Redding, authorities said.

Alistair Sullivan told CNN affiliate KPIX that he drove home Thursday night to find firefighters in his Redding neighborhood, telling him and neighbors to evacuate. He got some papers and his guitars and left.

"This came out of nowhere," he told the station outside his house that had burned down. "You try to grab things that you think are pretty important. ...Then you leave and you think -- 'I should have grabbed that.' "

A resident of French Gulch, west of Redding, said she had two hours to evacuate, but some people only had 30 minutes.

"It's terrifying," Rachel Hines told CNN affiliate KRCR, "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."

The fire has destroyed at least 65 structures so far, damaged 55 others and threatens almost 5,000 homes and buildings, Cal Fire spokesman Scott Kenney said.

"This fire is making a significant push into the northwest portion of Redding," Cal Fire incident commander Chief Brett Gouvea told reporters. "This fire is extremely dangerous and is moving with no regard to what's (in) its path"

Two people died fighting the fire and three firefighters were injured. Eight people were treated for respiratory and burn-related injuries at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The blaze doubled in size in the last 12 hours, and now covers 44,450 acres, with only 3% containment, Cal Fire said Friday morning.

'This fire is out of control!'

Cal Fire said that a Redding firefighter had died but provided no details.

A private hire bulldozer operator, who was not identified, died Thursday while also battling the fire.

There have now been three fire-related deaths in the state in recent weeks. Braden Varney, 36, a heavy fire equipment operator, was killed last weekend while battling another blaze near Yosemite National Park.

"As we mourn the loss, we also battle a fire that is moving extremely quickly and erratically into western Redding," Gouvea said.

At least three firefighters have been injured, but the extent of their injuries is unknown, said Scott McLean, another Cal Fire spokesman.

More than 1,700 firefighters have been trying to control the blaze since it broke out Monday, but hot and windy conditions continue fueling it, officials said. Two hundred California National Guardsmen have been brought in to help firefighters, said Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma of the National Guard.

"The fire is creating a huge wind vacuum and moving very rapidly toward west Redding. This fire is out of control!" the California Highway Patrol said in a Facebook post Thursday night urging residents to evacuate.

The fire started Monday apparently due to the mechanical failure of a vehicle, fire officials said. Flames have consumed trees, houses and historic buildings in Shasta County for days and temporarily closed traffic along Highway 299.

It also struck the Oak Bottom Marina at Whiskeytown Lake, west of Redding, leaving about 40 boats and part of the dock burned or charred, the Redding Record Searchlight reported.

"The only buildings left standing down there right now are the fire station and a couple of the restrooms," Shasta County Fire Chief Mike Hebrard told the paper. "The concession stands are burned up."

KRCR, a Redding TV station and CNN affiliate, interrupted its newscast and evacuated its facility Thursday night as the fire approached.

"Right now we are being evacuated, that's why we are kind of closing out right now," said news anchor Allison Woods during a live broadcast. "We are going to leave the station because (it) is now unsafe to be here."

Evacuation orders caught many people in Redding off guard and caused traffic jams as they tried to get out of town, according to McLean, the Cal Fire spokesman.

"When it hit, people were really scrambling," he told CNN affiliate KTXL. "There was not much of a warning."

Firefighters face a difficult task in the days ahead, with dry conditions and temperatures expected to near 110 F on Friday.

"They're in triple digits through Thursday" with no rain forecast, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.

The fire also has disrupted rail travel. Amtrak said Coast Starlight service, operating daily between Seattle and Los Angeles, has been stopped between Sacramento and Klamath Falls, Oregon, until conditions change.

Babies evacuated from hospital

At least five babies are being evacuated from the neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy Medical Center due to the fire, hospital spokesman Rick Plummer said.

Some babies are being airlifted to hospitals in Sacramento, while others are being transferred in ambulances.

The hospital is not under a mandatory evacuation order, but the infants are being evacuated because of the time and intense resources needed to relocate them.

Medics and hospital staff have been affected by the fire as well.

"Several staff members have evacuated their own homes, then returned to care for patients," Plummer said. "Several members have lost their homes."

Hospital staff is preparing to evacuate the facility if needed, a Cal Fire spokesman said.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Thursday for Riverside and Shasta counties in response to fires.

More than 80 wildfires in the US

The Carr Fire is among 89 active large fires scorching 14 states and one of six large wildfires in California, the National Interagency Fire Center said.

Elsewhere in California, the Ferguson Fire has prompted the closure of the most iconic areas of Yosemite National Park until Sunday, killed one person and injured several firefighters.

The blaze, which is raging west of the park, has burned 45,911 acres and is 29% contained, Cal Fire said Friday morning. About 3,800 firefighters are on the scene.

Another massive wildfire in the San Bernardino National Forest, known as the Cranston Fire, prompted thousands to flee their homes and led to the arrest of a man.

Brandon N. McGlover, 32, of Temecula was detained Wednesday and is facing five counts of arson to wildland, the Riverside County Fire Department and Cal Fire said.

Authorities said they believe McGlover started not only the Cranston Fire but other fires in the region as well.

More than 1,300 firefighters are battling that blaze, which has scorched 11,500 acres and is only 3% contained, according to San Bernardino National Forest officials.

The fire, which is about 5 miles southwest of Palm Springs, has led to the evacuation of the town of Idyllwild and other communities.

The area around Idyllwild was the site of a massive wildfire in July 2013 that burned more than 27,000 acres.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 750432

Reported Deaths: 13764
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1031991782
Lake556411007
Allen41662691
St. Joseph36974564
Hamilton36561417
Elkhart29390459
Tippecanoe22886225
Vanderburgh22549400
Porter19348325
Johnson18432388
Hendricks17608317
Clark13206193
Madison13139344
Vigo12608253
LaPorte12415221
Monroe12188175
Delaware10954198
Howard10285225
Kosciusko9619119
Hancock8562145
Bartholomew8164157
Warrick7856156
Floyd7781180
Grant7232179
Wayne7160201
Boone6939103
Morgan6746141
Dubois6214118
Marshall6208116
Cass6000109
Dearborn589578
Henry5895109
Noble580787
Jackson508975
Shelby500896
Lawrence4738122
Gibson444593
Clinton441455
Harrison441073
DeKalb439485
Montgomery436390
Whitley406343
Huntington402481
Steuben399759
Miami393169
Jasper387454
Knox375890
Putnam372160
Wabash360683
Ripley346970
Adams345355
Jefferson335785
White331553
Daviess3033100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay266448
Washington245234
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234431
Starke227958
Fountain220348
Sullivan214343
Owen211658
Fulton202142
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188155
Perry187137
Rush175826
Vermillion174644
Franklin170335
Tipton166146
Parke149316
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120547
Newton113736
Brown104043
Crawford102316
Benton101414
Martin91615
Warren83815
Switzerland8118
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108146

Reported Deaths: 20122
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1286421460
Cuyahoga1157382208
Hamilton813551248
Montgomery525311041
Summit48395999
Lucas43343818
Butler38951604
Stark33318929
Lorain25658504
Warren24580303
Mahoning22355603
Lake21166387
Clermont20111253
Delaware18841135
Licking16660222
Fairfield16570204
Trumbull16537482
Medina15603271
Greene15272247
Clark14233306
Wood13287198
Portage13242214
Allen11910239
Richland11601211
Miami10843224
Wayne9130222
Columbiana9029230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8658122
Tuscarawas8643248
Marion8641138
Erie8056164
Ashtabula7147179
Hancock6996132
Ross6943161
Geauga6834150
Scioto6534105
Belmont6155174
Union584549
Lawrence5726102
Jefferson5675158
Huron5544122
Sandusky5439125
Darke5415129
Seneca5347126
Washington5318109
Athens523660
Auglaize501887
Mercer487385
Shelby476595
Knox4570112
Madison444065
Ashland435597
Putnam4336103
Defiance432298
Fulton432072
Crawford4036110
Brown402461
Logan387577
Preble3848104
Clinton379166
Ottawa373581
Highland359665
Williams348078
Champaign344258
Guernsey324853
Jackson318154
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin274965
Henry273367
Holmes2699101
Coshocton268960
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll197148
Paulding176542
Meigs148240
Monroe136344
Noble136039
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
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