California wildfire claims lives of great-grandmother, two children and firefighters

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Police say they do not believe the homeowners placed the items like that before evacuating.

Bosenko said authorities are still looking for seven people after finding nine others who had been reported missing.

More than 38,000 people in the Redding area were under evacuation orders on Sunday.

That's what happened Thursday, when the fire near Redding pivoted and exploded in size, taking down hundreds of homes and killing five people, two of them firefighters.

Ed Bledsoe told CBS News he did not know his home was in danger when he left his wife, Melody, and the 4- and 5-year-old children to run an errand on Thursday.

"Grandma did everything she could to save them", Woodly wrote.

The so-called Carr Fire that affected Redding - a city of about 92,000 people - was ignited by a vehicle problem on Monday about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of the city.

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said his department did tell people living in Redding to evacuate.

The family said authorities told them the boy had called 911 from the house, relatives told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The fatalities included two firefighters and a woman and her two great-grandchildren.

Officials battling the blaze told the news conference in Redding they were feeling more optimistic on Sunday afternoon and starting to gain ground on the Carr Fire.

Firefighters endured hot temperatures and remained wary of the possibility of gusty winds, said Anthony Romero, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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Paulich said residents have been heeding evacuation orders because they have seen the destruction caused by past fires. The so-called Carr Fire has twice doubled in size since it started a week ago, burning through almost 100,000 acres as of Monday.

The Carr Fire continues to rage, though it is now 20% contained, which refers to how much of a control line has been constructed around a fire to keep it from jumping major roadways and igniting new areas of land. There were door-to-door notifications made in the area, he said.

A firefighter identified as Brian Hughes died on Sunday while battling the Ferguson Fire, which is near Yosemite National Park.

Melody Bledsoe's husband, Ed Bledsoe, said he had gone to get supplies when his house caught fire.

A spokesperson for American Red Cross said Bethel Church offered their site as an evacuation center, but their location was too close to the fire line to have people staying overnight.

Cal Fire Division Chief Charlie Blankenheim said he expected significant growth as the fire pushed into the Mendocino National Forest.

"He just kept saying, 'Grandpa, ' he said, 'Come get me, ' " Bledsoe told CNN, his voice shaking as he broke down mid-sentence. "There's a finite number of resources in California, and obviously we're employing them at the highest-priority incidents", Cox said.

Nearby Keswick, a mountain town of about 450 people, "was reduced to an ashy moonscape of blackened trees and smoldering rubble", according to the AP.

He said a relatively wet winter literally added fuel to the fire by creating more vegetation.

Head here for the latest information on the Carr Fire, as well as for a full list of evacuation information.

On social media, residents posted photos of wandering dogs and horses left behind by owners in the fire-stricken region, a popular fishing destination that lies just south of California's largest man-made lake.

U.S. firefighters have worked to put out 89 large fires, which have burned more than 3,760 square kilometres over the peak summer period.