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An explosive wildfire tore through two small Northern California communities before reaching the city of Redding, killing a bulldozer operator and a Redding firefighter on the fire lines, burning three firefighters, destroying dozens of homes and forcing thousands of terrified residents to flee.

The blaze has crossed the Sacramento River and now threatens hundreds of homes on the western fringes of the city of Redding, the Sacramento Bee said.

"We're not fighting a fire", said Jonathan Cox, battalion chief with Cal Fire.

Cal Fire reports the Carr Fire has burned 28,763 acres and is only 6% contained as of Thursday night.

A wildfire in a rural northern region of California has tripled in size overnight and more evacuations have been ordered. Cal Fire said the "mechanical failure of a vehicle" was the source of the blaze.

Wade Brilz looks at what remains of his burned home during the Carr fire in Redding
Image The out-of-control wildfire has left charred ruins in its wake

'This fire is out of control!'

Pending notification of next of kin, they have not released the person's name, only that the firefighter worked for the Redding Fire Department.

The Carr fire erupted on Monday 23 July and is being propelled by "extreme fire behavior and challenging wind conditions", according to CalFire officials.

Three firefighters and an unknown number of civilians had burns, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately known, McLean said.

Belongie said she has prepared for the worst, if flames, edged on by winds pushing flames over parched land, continue moving through Redding.

Flames have consumed trees, houses and historic buildings in Shasta County for days and temporarily closed traffic along Highway 299. The fire had burned an area of more than 44,000 acres by Friday morning, with a containment of just 3 percent.

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Dozens of charred, twisted and melted boats were among the losses at Oak Bottom Marina. "We ask everyone to heed evacuation orders and leave promptly".

Firefighters face a hard task in the days ahead, with dry conditions and temperatures expected to reach 110 F on Friday.

On Thursday, she says a friend who lives about a mile away called her around 8 p.m.

Journalists covering the fire also had to respond to the blaze. Amtrak said Coast Starlight service, operating daily between Seattle and Los Angeles, has been stopped between Sacramento and Klamath Falls, Oregon, until conditions change. "It was just time, it was time to evacuate".

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

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He said the hospital was preparing high-risk patients to be evacuated but there were no immediate plans to do so.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Shasta and Riverside Counties.

An update at 8:10 a.m Friday from CAL FIRE included the information that the Carr Fire has destroyed 65 structures, but did not indicate whether any of them were residences.

The firefighters have been identified as - 37-year-old engineer Scott Pederson, 19 years with the department; 34-year-old firefighter Tyler Barnes, 4 years with the department and 26-year-old firefighter Brian Cardoza, 3 months with the department.

Authorities arrested a Temecula man on suspicion of setting the fire.

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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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