Posted by News Express | 28 July 2018 | 674 times
A wildfire that roared with little warning into a Northern California city claimed two lives as thousands of people scrambled to escape before the walls of flames descended from forested hills into their neighborhoods, leaving at least 500 structures destroyed in its wake, officials said Friday.
Residents who gathered their belongings in haste described a chaotic and congested getaway as the embers blew up to a mile ahead of flames and the fire leaped across the wide Sacramento River and torched subdivisions in Redding, a city of 92,000 about 100 miles south of the Oregon border.
“I’ve never experienced something so terrifying in my life,” said Liz Williams, who loaded two kids in her car and then found herself locked in bumper-to-bumper traffic with neighbors trying to retreat from Lake Redding Estates. She eventually jumped the curb onto the sidewalk and “booked it.”
“I didn’t know if the fire was just going to jump out behind a bush and grab me and suck me in,” Williams said. “I wanted out of here.”
500 structures lost, 5,000 threatened
The blaze leveled at least 500 structures and was threatening nearly 5,000 more Friday. Entire neighborhoods have been left smoldering, and 37,000 people were under evacuation orders. Redding police chief Roger Moore was among those who lost their homes, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The flames moved so fast that firefighters working in ovenlike temperatures and bone-dry conditions had to drop efforts to battle the blaze at one point to help people escape.
The fire, which created at least two flaming tornados that toppled trees, shook firefighting equipment and busted truck windows, took “down everything in its path,” said Scott McLean, a spokesman for Cal Fire, the state agency responsible for fighting wildfires.
Fire officials warned that the blaze would probably burn deeper into urban areas before there was any hope of containing it, though it either changed direction or was stopped before it could burn into the core of the city.
Redding sits at the northern end of the agricultural Central Valley, surrounded by a scenic landscape. Rivers channel abundant winter rainfall into massive reservoirs used for boating and fishing. The area’s stunning mountains, including snow-capped Mount Shasta, topping 14,000 feet (4,265 meters), are a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. (BBC/VOA)
•A charred neighborhood destroyed by the Carr Fire is seen west of Redding, California, July 27, 2018.
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