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2 killed in Northern California wildfire, 65 buildings destroyed

Updated: 10:58 a.m. July 27, 2018

REDDING, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California's devastating wildfires (all times local):

8:30 a.m.

Fire officials say 65 structures have been destroyed by a fatal wildfire tearing through rural Northern California towns. That's up from a previous report of 15 destroyed.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says 500 other buildings are threatened by the massive blaze that has killed two firefighters.
Officials say the extremely erratic wildfire in and around the city of Redding is growing rapidly amid scorching temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions.
The blaze that began Monday grew overnight Thursday to 70 square miles (180 square kilometers).
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8:05 a.m.

Officials say a firefighter has been killed by a massive Northern California wildfire, raising the death toll to 2.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Friday that a firefighter with the fire department in the city of Redding was killed fighting the blaze in Shasta County.
The department says it is investigating the death. No other details were provided.
The blaze on Thursday killed a bulldozer operator as he worked to try to contain the blaze.
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7:40 a.m.

A wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California has grown to 18 square miles (46 square kilometers).
Authorities say just 3 percent of the fire's perimeter is contained Friday morning. Conditions are calm but gusty winds are expected by afternoon.
The fire allegedly was intentionally set Wednesday and quickly spread through timber and brush near the town of Idyllwild and other communities about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Los Angeles.
More than 4,900 structures are threatened and an estimated 6,000 people have been evacuated.
In the Sierra Nevada, the Ferguson Fire continues to grow just outside Yosemite National Park.
Authorities say it is now nearly 72 square miles (186 square kilometers), but containment has increased to 29 percent.
Yosemite Valley and the Wawona and Mariposa Grove areas of the national park remain closed.
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7:10 a.m.
Hundreds of people who fled their homes because of a massive Northern California wildfire are crowding into shelters as the blaze brightens the sky with a red glow.
Videos posted to social media show long lines of cars slowly moving on a highway near the city of Redding as the wildfire rages on the hills behind.
Dozens of evacuees are going to Shasta College, where officials have set up a shelter. Another shelter has been set up at an elementary school.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered overnight for the city of Shasta Lake, which has about 10,000 residents.
People in the western part of Redding, which has about 92,000 residents, were also asked to evacuate.
The blaze grew overnight to 70 square miles (180 square kilometers).
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6:40 a.m.
More evacuations have been ordered as a devastating wildfire torches an area in and around the Northern California city of Redding. 
The blaze that broke out Monday exploded late Thursday and raced into small communities west of Redding before entering the city limits.
Fire officials say dozens of homes have burned, though conditions make it impossible to determine an accurate count and the number could climb much higher.
A bulldozer operator on the fire lines was killed and three firefighters suffered burns. Some civilians also have been injured.
Mandatory evacuations were extended overnight to include the city of Shasta Lake, which has about 10,000 residents.
Parts of Redding, which has about 92,000 residents and is the largest city in the region, also have been evacuated. 
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2 a.m.
An explosive wildfire tore through two small Northern California communities, killing a bulldozer operator on the fire lines, burning three firefighters, destroying dozens of homes and forcing thousands of terrified residents to flee.
Flames swept through the communities of Shasta and Keswick before jumping the Sacramento River on Thursday and reaching Redding It's a city of about 92,000 people and the largest in the region.
Residents in the western part of Redding who hadn't been under evacuation orders were caught off guard and had to flee with little notice, causing miles-long traffic jams as flames turned the skies orange.
Many firefighters turned their focus from the flames to getting people out alive.
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Posted: 5:41 a.m. July 27, 2018

(CNN) -- Walls of flames are quickly ripping the Northern California city of Redding, where an "out of control" fire has killed one person and is forcing thousands of residents out of their homes.

The Carr Fire in Shasta County grew rapidly Thursday night, ravaging several small communities as it began burning into Redding, a city of about 95,000 people around 120 miles south of the California-Oregon border.

"This fire is extremely dangerous and is moving with no regard to what's on its path," Cal Fire Incident Commander Chief Brett Gouvea told reporters.

The blaze, which has burned 28,763 acres, is only 6% contained, Cal Fire said.

The mechanical failure of a vehicle is believed to have ignited the blaze, fire officials said.

Hundreds of firefighters battling the blaze

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

The operator, who has not been identified, is the state's second fire-related death in recent weeks. Braden Varney, 36, a heavy fire equipment operator, was killed while batting another blaze near Yosemite National Park.

"As we mourn the loss, we also battle a fire that is moving extremely quickly and erratically into western Redding," Gouvea said.

At least three other firefighters have been injured but the extent of their injuries is unknown, Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said.

More than 1,700 firefighters have been trying to control the blaze since it broke out Monday but hot and windy conditions continue fueling it, officials said. The California National Guard is helping with the firefight, McLean told CNN.

The fire has destroyed 15 structures and is threatening at least 500 more as it continues it's rapid rate and erratic behavior.

"The fire is creating a huge wind vacuum and moving very rapidly toward west Redding. This fire is out of control!," the California Highway Patrol said in a Facebook post Thursday night urging residents to evacuate.

Flames have consumed trees, houses and historic buildings in Shasta County for days and temporarily closed traffic along Highway 299.

KRCR, a Redding, California, TV station and CNN affiliate, interrupted it's newscast and evacuated its facility Thursday night as the fire approached their studio.

"Right now we are being evacuated, that's why we are kind of closing out right now," said news anchor Allison Woods during a live broadcast. "We are going to leave the station because is now unsafe to be here."

Babies evacuated from NICU

At least five babies are being evacuated from the neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy Medical Center due to the fire, hospital spokesman Rick Plummer said.

Some babies are being airlifted to hospitals in Sacramento while others are being transferred in ambulances.

While the hospital is not under a mandatory evacuation order, the infants are being evacuated because of the time and intense resources needed to relocate them.

Medics and hospital staff have been directly impacted by the fire.

"Several staff members have evacuated their own homes then returned to care for patients" Plummer said. Several members have lost their homes."

Hospital staff are preparing to evacuate the entire facility if needed, a Cal Fire spokesman said.

California Gov. Jerry Brown had declared a state of emergency for Riverside and Shasta counties on Thursday in response to the fire.

More than 80 wildfires in the US

The Carr Fire is among 88 active large fires scorching the country and one of six large wildfires in California, the National Interagency Fire Center said.

Another fire, the Ferguson Fire, has prompted the closure of the most iconic areas of Yosemite National Park until Sunday, killed one person and injured several firefighters.

The blaze, which is raging west of the park, has burned 44,223 acres and is 27% contained, the US Forest Service said.

A massive wildfire in the San Bernardino National Forest, known as the Cranston Fire, prompted thousands to flee their homes and led to the arrest of a man.

Brandon N. McGlover, 32, of Temecula was detained Wednesday and is facing five counts of arson to wildland, the Riverside County Fire Department and Cal Fire said.

Authorities believe McGlover started not only the Cranston Fire but other fires in the region as well.

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling that blaze, which has scorched 7,500 acres and is only 5% contained.

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.

The area around Idyllwild was the site of a massive wildfire in July 2013 that burned more than 27,000 acres.

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