The Carr Fire: Aftermath And Challenges To Recovery

In late July, the Carr fire burned through Shasta and Trinity Counties in far-northern California. Driven by dry fuels, hot temperatures and high winds, it became a "fire tornado," jumping the Sacramento River and sweeping through neighborhoods in Redding, the region's largest city. Nearly half of Redding's population had to evacuate and more than 1,000 homes were destroyed. Eight people, including three fire fighters, died.

These are stories of how the Carr fire affected the Redding area and some of the challenges facing the recovery effort.

Cal Fire

Our broadcast signals reach from Mendocino in the south to Eugene in the north.  But our people generally work out of the studios in Ashland. 

One notable exception: Valerie Ing, who works and lives in Redding.  She was there a year ago this week, when the Carr Fire swept into town, destroying hundreds of homes.  Hers was spared, but she knew plenty of people who had to start from scratch. 

Ryan Russell Studios via McConnell Foundation

It's been a productive year, rebuilding the parts of Redding scorched by the Carr Fire.  But the work is a long way from being finished. 

We continue our year-later lookback with a visit on the long-term recovery of the Redding area.  The efforts get a boost from the Shasta Regional Community Foundation and the local chapter of the Salvation Army.  Both organizations are members of NorCal CRT (Community Recovery Team).

April Ehrlich/JPR News

We devote several segments of this week's Exchange to a one-year lookback to the Carr Fire and its ongoing effects in the Redding area. 

But JPR News has other avenues of approach to covering wildfire past and present.  Exchange producer and reporter April Ehrlich has been working for months on collecting the individual stories of people who live in communities affected by wildfire. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR News

It may seem like yesterday, but the Carr Fire destroyed all those homes in Redding a full year ago.  The memory is fresh for many people because their homes are not yet rebuilt. 

But the area is continuing to recover from the devastation.  Superior California Economic Development is one of a host of entities helping guide the post-fire recovery. 

Liam Moriarty.JPR News

In late July, the Carr fire swept through parts of Redding, California and the surrounding area. Now, residents are faced with burned hillsides and more than a thousand home sites contaminated with toxic ash. What are the potential environmental impacts? JPR’s Liam Moriarty went to find out.


Liam Moriarty/JPR NEws

Last month, the Carr Fire forced nearly 40,000 people to flee their homes in Redding and the surrounding area. More than a thousand homes were destroyed and many businesses took a major hit. Now, as the smoke literally begins to clear, residents are dealing with the economic fallout of the disaster.


Liam Moriarty/JPR NEws

When disasters strike, access to food is a top priority. With thousands still displaced by the Carr fire near Redding, the volunteer chefs of World Central Kitchen believe canned soup and bologna sandwiches aren’t enough.


Liam Moriarty/JPR News

A procession of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles filed through the streets of Redding Thursday, accompanying the body of a firefighter who died in the Carr Fire.


April Ehrlich | JPR

When a wildfire hits and people have to evacuate their homes, they often refuse to leave their pets behind. They pack their dogs in carriers and crates and head to the nearest emergency animal shelter, if there is one.

But increasingly people are refusing to separate from their pets, even if that means they can’t sleep in an evacuation center.

That was the case during the massive wildfire in Northern California that erupted last week. 


April Ehrlich/JPR News

Hundreds of Redding residents didn’t have much notice before they heard sirens blaring through their neighborhoods Thursday night, calling for immediate evacuations. People who left were snagged by traffic. If they tried to find a hotel, they were likely out of luck; most were booked solid clear down to Sacramento.

So they ended at an evacuation center, like the one at Shasta College. Cots covered the gym floors, and despite the midday noise, many evacuees slept solidly. They were exhausted. It was hot. And they didn’t know when they could return home, or if their home was left standing.