Great-grandmother and kids killed in California wildfires

Melody Bledsoe died along with her great-grandchildren James and Emily

Melody Bledsoe died along with her great-grandchildren James and Emily

A Redding woman tried to save her two great-grandchildren by covering them with a wet blanket as the Carr fire swept through her home, her family said Saturday.

"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, which is located about 230 miles north of San Francisco.

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told reporters at a news conference on Sunday that another victim had been found in a home that had become engulfed in flames.

Bosenko said Sunday that 16 people have so far been reported missing over the course of the fire.

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

It was pushing southwest of Redding on Saturday, toward the tiny communities of Ono, Igo and Gas Point.

The destruction wrought by the Carr Fire in Redding is much worse than originally measured. Temperatures were forecast to reach 42.8degC on Saturday, with winds of up to 13kmh, according to the National Weather Service.

Teague says they nearly had to abandon rescue efforts just before dawn.

"It's burning in every direction all at the same time", said Cal Fire Chief Steve Crawford. That pull creates strong winds, which form the vortex.

Two firefighters have also died in the blaze. He was identified Saturday as Don Ray Smith, 81, of Pollock Pines.

A bulldozer operator as well as a member of the Redding Fire Department were killed in the blaze.

Firefighters are battling 17 wildfires across the state, which have consumed a combined 200,000 acres in terrain stretching from Southern California to the OR border, said Jonathan Cox, battalion chief and information officer with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Typically on fires like this about 60 to 80 percent of "structures" destroyed are sheds, detached garages, or similar outbuildings.

Homes leveled by the Carr Fire line the Lake Keswick Estates area of Redding, Calif., on Friday, July 28, 2018.

A deadly California wildfire has doubled in size since Friday.

Governor Jerry Brown requested emergency federal assistance to prevent an "imminent catastrophe" as Shasta County tried to find supplies and water for 30,000 evacuated residents and care for horses and cattle rescued from ranches and farms. Those fires had burned almost 260 square kilometres.

Some evacuations were lifted but officials said Yosemite Valley, the heart of tourism in the park, will remain closed until August 3.

In the Redding area, authorities were investigating reports of looting in evacuated areas. Another 800 personnel have been deployed by the California National Guard. One of the homes lost belonged to Shyla and Jason Campbell.

More than 38,000 people remained under evacuation orders on Sunday in and around Redding, a city of 90,000 people about 160 miles (257 km) north of the state capital Sacramento.

When they returned Friday, virtually nothing was left but fine particles of ash.

"It's pretty emotional", Terri Hill said. But we'll make new memories and get new stuff.

A 32-year-old man has been arrested and charged with 15 arson counts, though it is still unclear if he started the Carr fire.

A tearful Sherry Bledsoe confirmed the deaths of her grandmother, Melody Bledsoe, and her children, James Roberts, 5, and Emily Roberts, 4.

Neither Ed nor any of the Bledsoe family knew an evacuation order had been issued for the area and Ed had taken the only working auto to get supplies - only to return to a towering inferno. The boy said he had to come back to the home.

Bledsoe rushed home, but was turned back by police because the fire was raging.

Decker took his motorcycle up to view the property and found smoldering ruins too hot to enter.

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