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Two children killed in California wild fires as death toll rises

Junie Sihlangu
Jul 30, 2018
05:13 A.M.
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Northern California’s Carr fire took the lives of two children and their great-grandmother on Thursday. James Roberts, 5, and Emily Roberts, 4, was stranded with their great-grandmother, Melody Bledsoe, 70, when flames engulfed their home.

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According to KCRA 3, Bledsoe’s husband, Ed Roberts had gone to the store to grab supplies when the incident happened. It’s believed that by Sunday, 8 people had died from the fires.

The cause of the massive raging fire in Carr near Redding is suspected to be a vehicle's mechanical failure. Years of drought and record heat waves fueled the flames growth.

Donald Kewley of Redding revealed his feelings about finding out that his girlfriend's grandmother and the two children did not escape the fire in their neighborhood on Quartz Hill Road. "He lost everything," Kewley said of Melody Bledsoe’s husband, Ed Roberts.

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For more on this story go to our Twitter account @amomama_usa. Within an hour of Roberts leaving the house and his family was gone.

A firefighter, a bulldozer operator, and 3 people preparing to evacuate a home were also smongst those who died in the blaze. The fire has grown from about 48,000 acres on Friday night to 96,000 on Sunday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

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"You can't lose more than family. And then you lose everything on top of that. Man's got the shirt on his back and the pants on his waist. That's it."

Donald Kewley, KCRA 3, July 28, 2018

Cal Fire said containment had improved from 5 to 17 % by Sunday night. The fire has destroyed 874 homes or other structures and threatens 5,000 more near the city of Redding.

Around 40,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes. On Sunday night, authorities arrested 2 people on suspicion of looting homes that had been evacuated.

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The number of people that have been reported missing since the blaze broke out on Monday afternoon is 16. Authorities are still investigating 7of those cases.

Cal Fire Incident Commander Brett Gouvea told reporters on Sunday that the fire was continuing to expand in remote, inaccessible areas. The good news was that it had not moved further into Redding.

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"The positive thing about that — we're out away from many of the residents, structures and critical infrastructure around Shasta County," he said. "However, that does pose some threats to communities that are farther out," Gouvea added.

Redding resident Hannalora Lewis, 16, experienced the effects of the blaze firsthand. She was woken up by her mother on Thursday morning and told to evacuate.

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Her parents grabbed photos and corralled their dogs. Meanwhile, Lewis took her phone, an outfit, and a new pair of sneakers she had bought while back-to-school shopping.

She revealed that she almost grabbed a box of mementos filled with trinkets, diaries, and ticket stubs from her favorite movies but thought against it. The teenager figured they would take up too much room in the car.

Within days, she learned the family’s house had been destroyed. “I didn’t think for a second that we would lose our home,” she said.

On Sunday firefighters offered their first optimistic assessment of their battle against the Carr fire. Gouvea said cooler temperatures and increased humidity had given firefighters a window of opportunity to attack the massive fire.

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