Deadly California wildfire kills great-grandmother and two children

Deadly California wildfire kills great-grandmother and two children

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Grieving relatives described the panicked phone calls they received as fires closed in on their California neighbourhood and their desperate two-day search for an elderly woman and her two great-grandhildren, before discovering they died when flames engulfed their home. The death toll from California’s summer wildfires rose to five at the weekend when fire crews said they had found human remains at a charred home on the outskirts of Redding in the north of the state. More than 38,000 people remain under evacuation orders from a fire that has destroyed more than 500 buildings and continued to rage unchecked into a seventh day yesterday. Melody, 70, and two great-grandchildren – James Roberts, 5, and Emily Roberts, 4 died in the blaze Ed Bledsoe described how he left his home with the family’s only car to run errands on Thursday leaving his wife Melody, 70, and two great-grandchildren – James Roberts, 5, and Emily Roberts, 4 – behind. He told Capital Public Radio his wife telephoned an hour later. “She said, ‘You need to come home right now. The fire’s right next to our house,’” he said. Mr Bledsoe tried to race home but was turned back at roadblocks. The children were “screaming for their lives,” Jason Decker, the boyfriend of another of the Bledsoes’ granddaughters, told the New York Times. “The kids were saying: ‘Papa, papa, come home. The fire’s at the back door.’” Some 3500 firefighters are trying to contain the flames Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Then the line went dead. For two days they searched hospitals and refuges after being told the three had been rescued. But on Saturday, officials said three bodies had been found at what was left of their home. Carla Bledsoe hugs her sister Sherri outside the sheriff's office after hearing news that Sherri's children and grandmother were killed  Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP "My babies are dead," Sherry Bledsoe said through tears after she was given the news by sheriff’s deputies. Her children had been in the care of their great-grandparents while she had spent the past four months incarcerated at the county jail. Police tape blocks the house where relatives say three people were found dead following a wildfire in Redding Credit: Jonathan Cooper/AP Two fire service personnel also died last week. President Donald Trump declared the fire an emergency at the weekend, freeing federal funds for disaster relief efforts. Almost 90 fires are burning across western states – stretching from Texas to Oregon – but the most destructive so far is the Carr Fire which has blackened almost 90,000 acres of parched land in California since erupting last Monday. Cal Fire, the state fire brigade, says it was caused by the mechanical failure of a vehicle but has offered no further details about how it began. Homes leveled by the Carr Fire line the Lake Keswick Estates area of Redding Credit: Noah Berger/AP Since then, low humidity, high temperatures and gusting winds have accelerated it into a blazing, unpredictable storm. More than 5000 buildings are at risk as 3,500 firefighters and a squadron of 17 water-dropping helicopters try to contain its flames by carving buffer zones around its advancing fronts. By yesterday(SUN), they said they had managed to contain just 5 percent of the fire's perimeter. Anna Noland, 49, is among those staying at a shelter in Redding. She said she had been forced to flee twice in three days, before learning from video footage that her home had been destroyed. “I think I'm still in shock,” she told the Associated Press. “It's just unbelievable knowing you don't have a house to go back to.”