A massive wildfire has ripped through Northern California, leaving five dead and destroying hundreds of homes. According to the Washington Post, California’s latest wildfire dubbed the “Carr fire” has reached over 80,000 acres. It is bolstered by a deadly combination of “scorching temperatures, dry air, and unpredictable winds.”
The fire began on Monday after a car caught fire due to a “mechanical issue.” While it was initially slow and small, the fire quickly grew as the high temperatures and wind gusts raged. Brett Gouvea, the Cal Fire Chief, said that the Carr fire is: “extremely dangerous and moving with no regard to what’s in its path.” As of Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown and President Trump have declared a state of emergency for Shasta County, which includes the cities of Redding, Shasta Lake, Anderson, and several unincorporated communities.
Two firefighters were killed as they battled the blaze, which is now bigger than the city of Philadelphia. Three other civilians — two children and their great-grandmother — were also killed after they were caught by the flames.
The Carr fire has produced extreme weather conditions. Wind gusts in the area have reached up to 50 mph, and a “tornado-like funnel of fire, ash and combustible gas.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tweeted a photo from a satellite, which captured images of the smoke from space.
Thousands of people are being evacuated to safety as the fire rages on, where only 5 percent has been contained. According to ABC 7, over “7,000 firefighters from several California counties and around 800 National Guard soldiers were on the scene Friday.”
One area man, Steve Hobson, said he tried to stay and maintain his home, but the “heat burned his skin, and the smoke made it hard to breathe. He could feel the fire sucking the air from the around him.” He described having to battle the embers when he finally left his home. Trees fell before him, and the hills in the area were engulfed.
“The flames on the distant hillside looked like solar flares on the sun.”
Though the National Weather Service has advised residents to evacuate, residents say they have received little instruction and mixed messaging.
“We have about 10 firefighters who live in the neighborhood and they were saying as long as it didn’t jump the river, we’d be safe,” said Amber Bollman, whose home is near the Sacremento River. Though she and her family managed to escape, their home had been destroyed by the blaze.
The Carr Fire isn’t the only one ravaging the state. The Ferguson Fire, located near Yosemite National Park, has taken down 50,000 acres since it began in mid-July. As of Saturday morning, it has only been 29 percent contained.