President Trump on Saturday declared a California emergency after the Carr Fire that became a tornado and roared into Redding killing 2 firefighters, burning 80,906 acres, causing 38,000 evacuations and threatening another 4,978 structures.
In recognition that California is at maximum commitment with 10,000 firefighters battling 21 fires, President Donald Trump granted Gov. Brown’s request and issued an emergency declaration Saturday morning. The move authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to release disaster response equipment and resources, plus authorizes U.S. military personnel and Defense Department assets to be utilized.
Cal Fire reported at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning that 21 major fires are burning in California. The Carr Fire that started Monday morning due to mechanical failure of a vehicle almost doubled in the last 24 hours to about 126 square miles.
Redding Searchlight is reporting that two firefighters died and three have been injured from the Carr Fire. Authorities have also put up police tape around a burst out home where a 70-year old women, her 5-year-old, and 4-year-old great grandsons are feared missing in the Quartz Hill area.
The Searchlight reported that early this morning that more homes are burning northeast of the city due to erratic and unpredictable wind gusts. The combination of thick orange smoke and falling ash is increasing the difficulty fighting the blaze.
Despite the California National Guard is operating two C-130 tankers capable of dropping 3,000 gallons of retardant on each pass and Reaper Unmanned Aerial System drones to real-time imagery to coordinate ground efforts for 3,410 firefighters, the Carr Fire is only 5 percent contained and spreading in all directions.
Wildfire Today posted a video of what is referred to as a “fire tornado’ that roared down from Keswick Dam just north of Redding to destroy over 125 homes on Friday. The indefensible twister was caused by Carr Fire’s intense rising heat and turbulent wind conditions that combined to suck up burning debris and combustible gases.
Redding Police Chief Roger Moore told the Los Angeles Times that his family was included in the 37,000 evacuations issued by Friday. By the end of the day, Moore and two of his officers had lost homes as the fire devastated the 92,000-resident community.
Red Flag warnings for heat and high fire risk have been issued by Cal Fire through the weekend. Northwest Redding saw single-digit relative humidity, winds up to 13 miles per hour and temperatures of 102 degrees, with a Heat Index of 108 on Friday. Similar humidity and winds are expected over the weekend, but AccuWeather is forecasting 109-degree temperatures and a sizzling 112-degree heat index for Saturday and Sunday.
At the 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning Cal Fire briefing held at the Shasta County Fairgrounds in Anderson, firefighter leadership acknowledged they were unable to increase containment overnight from 5 percent and the blaze is spreading in all directions.
Cal Fire expects the fire to accelerate around 1 p.m. on Saturday, based on weather forecasts. The only good news is the two air tankers have been joined by 17 helicopter tankers that began flying missions as of 8:30 a.m. this morning.
Disclosure: Chriss Street’s parents were safely evacuated from their Redding home at around 3 p.m. on Friday. Although their home survived, neighbor four doors up the street and those across the street had homes that burned to the ground.