Thousands Evacuate due to Mendocino Fires

Larry Hoffman
July 31, 2018

In all, more than 10,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders from the two blazes in Mendocino and Lake counties.

Redding police have an additional 11 reports of missing people, though many of them may simply not have checked in with friends or family, said Redding police Sgt. Todd Cogle.

The Ranch and River fires in Mendocino County have collectively scorched more than 24,000 acres, Cal Fire said.

A resident of French Gulch, west of Redding, said she had two hours to evacuate, but some people had only 30 minutes.

The desperate search for 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe and her great-grandchildren, Emily and James Roberts, came to a devastating end Saturday when relatives confirmed their bodies had been found in the family's burned out home in Shasta County.

Bledsoe's grandaughter, Amanda Woodley, said on Facebook the elderly woman desperately put a wet blanket over the children as their home burned.

The drawback of the automated calling system is that it is created to dial landlines, but cellphone users must register their phones if they are to receive alerts, she said.

Paulich said residents have been heeding evacuation orders because they have seen the destruction caused by past wildfires, which have destroyed thousands of homes and killed at least four people since 2015.

Officials were investigating whether the Bledsoe home received a warning call or a knock on the door to evacuate, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said.

"Nothing. Absolutely not a word", Bledsoe said, adding, "Nobody told us nothing".

A great-grandmother, two children and two men working to contain the blaze are among the dead.

Firefighter Scott Brown sprays water on a backfire while battling the Carr Fire in Redding, Calif., on Saturday.

Firefighters are battling 17 wildfires across the state, which have consumed more than 200,000 acres combined 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.

"I was talking to my little grandson on the phone (and) he was saying, 'Grandpa, please, you gotta come and help us, the fire's at the back door, '" Mr Bledsoe said. The so-called Carr Fire, about 150 miles north of Sacramento, has grown to almost 150 square miles and is only 17 percent contained.

Sheriff's officials said their deputies and deputies from the Lake County Sheriff's Office "worked throughout the night to safely transfer the inmates to our Santa Rita Jail" in Dublin.

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.

The authorities warn that Red Flag conditions are expected to continue through Monday, with winds still strong and hot conditions, hence the Carr fire is expected to continue its spread.

Authorities arrested two people Sunday on suspicion of looting homes that had been evacuated in the fire. More than 160 fire departments from California and around the country have been deployed to help quell the week-long blaze. "There's a finite number of resources in California, and obviously we're employing them at the highest-priority incidents", Cox said.

"I can tell you we are making great strides every day", Gouvea said.

"Fire has become a lot more unpredictable", he said.

The death toll has reached five since the fire started burning last Monday.

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