One dead as raging California wildfire spreads near city

Firefighters regroup while battling the Carr Fire in Shasta Calif. on Thursday

One person has been killed as a raging, rapidly moving wildfire threatens to consume a northern California city with a population of 90,000 people.

An explosive wildfire tore through two small Northern California communities before reaching the city of Redding, killing a bulldozer operator and a Redding firefighter on the fire lines, burning three firefighters, destroying dozens of homes and forcing thousands of terrified residents to flee.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Friday that a firefighter with fire department in the city of Redding was killed fighting the blaze in Shasta County. The blaze that broke out Monday was caused by a mechanical issue involving a vehicle, officials said.

"When you're dealing with temperatures that high, it's really, really hot heat", said Cal Fire spokesman Scott Kenney in a phone interview. As we saw in the aftermath of the Tubbs Fire, donations of food and clothing can provide added logistical challenges since volunteers and relief organizations must find places to store them.

In Southern California, thousands remained evacuated as a suspected arson wildfire burned in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles.

Mike Mangas, a spokesman at Mercy Medical Center, said the hospital was evacuating five babies in its neonatal intensive care unit, which cares for premature newborns, and taking them to medical facilities outside of the area.

KRCR, a Redding TV station and CNN affiliate, interrupted its newscast and evacuated its facility Thursday night as the fire approached.

Sharon Stapleton of Shasta, Calif., said she and her husband were awakened when law enforcement officials came to their door in the middle of the night telling them to evacuate.

The Carr Fire was one of almost 90 large blazes burning nationally, a lot of them across the American West. No threat of fire is present in the area of the bridge at the moment.

Weber also said that the injured firefighters weren't necessarily injured by flames alone. "We are going to leave the station because (it) is now unsafe to be here".

A private hire bulldozer operator died Thursday while battling the fire but no more details have been released.

In response to the growing blaze, California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Riverside and Shasta counties.

This year so far, nearly 1.6 million hectares have been blackened by wildfires, above a 10-year average of 1.5 million hectares over the same period, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

The fire, which is about 5 miles southwest of Palm Springs, has led to the evacuation of the entire town of Idyllwild and several other communities. One of those prompted the closure of much of Yosemite National Park in California.

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