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2 children, great-grandmother killed in Northern California wildfire

31 July 2018

Three firefighters, a 70-year-old woman and her two great-grandchildren are among seven people killed by wildfires in northern California.

Mendocino County Undersheriff Matthew Kendall said about 1,000 residents had been ordered from their homes in his county.

Melody Bledsoe and her two great-grandchildren, Emily and James Roberts, died in the Carr Fire, family members said.

"Grandma did everything she could to save them", Bledsoe's granddaughter, Amanda Woodley, wrote in a Facebook post after Shasta County Sheriff's officials confirmed the deaths to relatives.

"We just wanted to show our support for them", she said.

In addition to the Carr Fire, more than a dozen other large wildfires are burning throughout California, stretching resources.

Thousands of firefighters in California made some progress against several large-scale blazes that have turned close to 200,000 acres (80,940 hectares) into an ashen wasteland, destroyed expensive homes, and killed eight fire personnel and civilians in the most populous U.S. state.

The remains of a person who ignored Carr fire evacuation orders was found in a burned out residence on Sunday, said Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko.

Bledsoe said even though the family was not told to evacuate, he feels more guilty than angry. Two other towns with about 5,000 people were also under mandatory evacuation.

Two firefighters have died battling the destructive Carr Fire.

A man accused of setting several fires in Riverside County, including the Cranston Fire, was arrested last Wednesday, authorities said.

Authorities said Monday the fire had grown to almost 100,000 acres, mostly in remote areas, but it's now 20 percent contained.

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More than 3,000 fire personnel are battling the flames with more than 300 engines and 17 helicopters, Cal Fire reported.

The alleged burglars were tracked down and found with electronic items stacked by their front door, the sheriff's department said.

One of those, the Ferguson Fire, prompted a rare closure of much of Yosemite National Park last week, while another forced mass evacuations from the mountain resort community of Idyllwild, east of Los Angeles.

Fire officials said Monday they hope to lift evacuation orders to let residents back into their homes.

Authorities in California have reported levels of fire intensity and unpredictability they have seldom seen before, as a result of a volatile mix of drought-parched vegetation, triple-digit temperatures and erratic winds.

Alyce Macken said she had only minutes to flee with her husband Ted from the flames sweeping closer to her home in Redding.

He said the Australian and New Zealand firefighters would be needed primarily to "replenish the ranks" and provide some relief to local firefighters who have been working non-stop to get the bushfires under control.

The fire began Monday when a vehicle suffered mechanical failure, officials said.

The Carr is the largest of eight big fires burning in California, and 90 across the country, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

"He's saying, 'grandpa, please, you've got to come and help us, the fire is at the back door, '" Bledsoe told CBS Sacramento. Entire subdivisions of Redding were flattened by the fire.

The fire had burned through 150 square miles by late Sunday and was growing, but Cal Fire Incident Commander Brett Gouvea said it was not moving deeper into this town of 92,000.

The fire grew slightly to 131 square miles (340 square kilometers) Saturday.

2 children, great-grandmother killed in Northern California wildfire