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00000171-95d3-d2cb-a5f3-9fff6ded0000 Check here for information on fires in our region. You can also check out these resources:Northwest Interagency Coordination CenterSWOFIRE: Oregon Department of Forestry, SW regionCalFire: Current Fire InformationInciWeb: Incident Information SystemOregon Smoke Blog: Smoke informationSouth Central Oregon Fire Management Cooperative (Klamath/Lake Counties & Crater Lake)

Redding Toll Updated: Six People Dead, 517 Homes Lost

The destruction wrought by the Carr Fire in Redding is much worse than originally measured.  On Sunday, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko announced the finding of another body in a burned area, bring the death toll to six.  The sheriff said next of kin have not been notified.  The report comes a day after the news that 70-year old Melody Bledsoe and her great-grandchildren 5-year-old James Roberts and 4-year-old Emily Roberts died in the fast-moving fire. 

Cal Fire numbers on Sunday show 517 homes or other structures lost, and 135 damaged.  The number will go higher as crews are able to get into burned areas for accurate counts.

On Thursday night, the fire swept into Redding from the west, blowing across the Sacramento River and into residential neighborhoods, faster than firefighters and evacuation warnings could keep up.

Two people involved in the firefighting effort died in Thursday's onslaught: contract bulldozer operator Don Ray Smith and Redding Fire inspector Jeremy Stoke.

Three firefighters from Marin County suffered burns on Thursday.  They were treated and released from a Redding hospital, but one firefighter will visit the UC-Davis burn center.

Friday and Saturday nights did not feature a rampage like Thursday's, but life is far from back to normal in the parts of Redding so far untouched by fire.  Evacuation zones still extend from French Gulch, across Whiskeytown Lake, into west and north Redding, and all the way through Shasta Lake City to Shasta Dam.  New evacuation orders went out on Saturday, including to Happy Valley, southwest of town.  An estimated 38,000 people are away from their homes, awaiting a chance to return.

Evacuation shelters are set up at the following locations:

  • Shasta College at 11555 Old Oregon Trail (currently full, says Shasta Co. Sheriff)
  • CrossPointe Community Church at 2960 Hartnell Ave.
  • Simpson University at 2211 College View Dr.
  • Neighborhood Church at 777 Loma Vista Dr.
  • Weaverville Elementary School at 31020 Hwy 3 in Weaverville

The fire continues to resist the best efforts of firefighters.  Temperatures well over 100 degrees and dry fuels keep it moving.  The National Weather Service declared a red flag warning for high temperatures and winds and low humidity, effective until 8 AM Monday.  The weather service notes that "spreading is not driven by the wind, but rather the fire itself," meaning the rising of hot air and gases inside the fire creates a wind that feeds it.

The fire started Monday, from what Cal Fire calls "mechanical failure of vehicle;" whether that's a flat tire that scraped a rim on the road or a dragging muffler, the agency has not said officially.

The fire spread quickly from its ignition point at California Highway 299 near Carr Powerhouse road, fueled by near-perfect wildfire conditions: high temperature, low humidity, and a stiff breeze.  Thursday's high in Redding of 113 degrees certainly played a part in the fire's run into town. 

Utility services have become an issue in the city; some power lines and poles were damaged or destroyed by the fire, leaving roughly 8,000 people without power.  There is no schedule yet for restoration of electric service.

And due to the ongoing fire-fighting efforts, the City of Redding and the California Division of Drinking Water request that all City of Redding residents and businesses, especially those not directly affected by the fire, please conserve water.  This includes turning off sprinklers, not washing vehicles or pavements, and not filling swimming pools.

Geoffrey Riley is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has hosted the Jefferson Exchange on JPR since 2009. He's been a broadcaster in the Rogue Valley for more than 35 years, working in both television and radio.