Calif. Firefighters Pushed To The Brink Across The State, Thousands Evacuated, But Optimism On The Rise

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Tens of thousands more fled their homes after wildfires surged near a small lake town in Northern California while a deadly blaze farther north slowed slightly as crews stretched to their limits across the state fight flames that have claimed the lives of both firefighters and civilians. 6a202e99-a808-4376-b253-e63061c4c1ee-005CarrFireEvacuate726_hvuResidents of the waterfront town Lakeport fled Sunday after a major flare-up of two fires that combined across Mendocino and Lake counties destroyed at least four homes. Lakeport, home to about 5,000, is around 120 miles north of San Francisco.

More than 4,500 buildings were under threat, officials said. The two fires had blackened 47 square miles (122 square kilometers), with minimal containment.

About 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast, officials near Redding struck a hopeful tone for the first time in days as a massive fire slowed following days of explosive growth.

“We’re feeling a lot more optimistic today as we’re starting to gain some ground rather than being in a defensive mode on this fire all the time,” said Bret Gouvea, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s incident commander on the blaze around Redding, a city about 230 miles (370 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said authorities found a sixth victim of the blaze at a home that was consumed by flames, though he declined to say where. The victim’s identity was not released.

The sheriff’s department is also investigating seven missing persons reports, Bosenko said. Redding police have an additional 11 reports of missing people, though many of them may simply not have checked in with friends or family, said Redding police Sgt. Todd Cogle.

The so-called Carr Fire that affected Redding — a city of about 92,000 people — was ignited by a vehicle problem on Monday about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of the city. On Thursday, it swept through the historic Gold Rush town of Shasta and nearby Keswick fueled by gusty winds and dry vegetation. It then jumped the Sacramento River and took out subdivisions on the western edge of Redding.

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
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