Thousands evacuate as deadly Carr Fire fire rips through Redding

Thousands evacuate as deadly Carr Fire fire rips through Redding

McLean said flames swept through the communities of Shasta and Keswick before jumping the Sacramento River and reaching Redding, a city of about 92,000 people - the largest in the region.

At least two firefighters have died fighting a fast-growing wildfire that sent residents fleeing from the northern Californian city of Redding, where homes and businesses burned and power was cut on Friday, fire officials said.

One Redding television station's frazzled anchors announced on air that the station was being evacuated, while one its reporters in the field nervously described the approaching flames.

A third major blaze, the nearly two-week-old, 43,300-acre Ferguson Fire, forced much of Yosemite National Park to close on Wednesday, as it poured thick smoke into the valley in the Sierra Nevada Mountains some 170 miles east of San Francisco.

He said the fire behavior was so erratic, there were tornadoes within the fire "tossing around equipment, blowing windows out of Cal Fire pickup trucks".

The Shasta County Carr Fire grew by about 60 percent overnight, scorching 44,450 acres (18,000 hectares), state fire officials said.

As the Carr fire burned through Shasta Co., wildfires scorched several other parts of the state.

The Carr Fire is one of 88 burning nationally, mostly across the American west, one of which prompted the closure of much of Yosemite National Park.

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Helicopters and planes dumped water and fire retardant on the area. CBS affiliate KFMB-TV reported that the Riverside Sheriff's station was conducting evacuations of Idyllwild, the Apple Canyon area, the Lake Hemet area, Mountain Center Community, the Hurkey Creek area and Camp Scherman Girl Scout Camp. The closure was heartbreaking for travelers, many of whom mapped out their trips months in advance to hike and climb amid the spectacular views of cascading waterfalls and sheer rock faces. Amtrak said Coast Starlight service, operating daily between Seattle and Los Angeles, has been stopped between Sacramento and Klamath Falls, Oregon, until conditions change. "Our neighbor's house across the way was totally unbelievable", she said.

As its officers were going door-to-door to help people escape the flames late Thursday, the California Highway Patrol took to Facebook to urge residents to leave.

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Fire officials said the mechanical failure of a vehicle sparked the blaze on Monday.

The blaze, which has burned 28,763 acres, is only 6% contained, Cal Fire said. "We didn't get everything".

Video footage and images posted on social media showed flames engulfing structures, as an orange glow lit up the night sky.

He said the downtown and centerpiece of the park still stood, but it was unsafe to go inside and collect more relics.

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