- Thousands have fled a terrifying wildfire, the so-called Carr Fire, as it tore through an area of northern California after tripling in size to 28,000 acres
- Late yesterday, crews found the body of a bulldozer operator, who had fought to contain the fierce blaze
- The wildfire crossed the Sacramento River and now threatens hundreds of homes on the western fringes of the city of Redding
- 'It's just chaotic. It's wild. There's a lot of fire, a lot of structures burning,' said Scott McLean, a Cal Fire spokesman for the crews battling the wildfire
Dozens of homes and businesses have already been burned to the ground in Redding, residents are evacuating, and local TV presenters were forced to flee while on air.
A bulldozer operator died in the Carr Fire, a terrifying blaze in Shasta County that has tripled in size over the last two days to 28,000 acres (11,300 hectares), the state's forestry and fire protection department, Cal Fire said.
The blaze crossed the Sacramento River and now threatens hundreds of homes on the western fringes of the city of Redding.
The Carr Fire burns a structure along Highway 299 in Shasta, California, on Thursday, July 26. Flames swept through the communities of Shasta and Keswick before jumping the Sacramento River and reaching Redding, a city of about 90,000 people and the largest in the region
Late yesterday, crews found the body of a bulldozer operator who was hired privately to clear vegetation in the blaze's path, said Scott McLean, a Cal Fire spokesman for the crews battling the blaze.
The fire burned over the operator and his equipment, making the man the second bulldozer operator killed in a California blaze in less than two weeks.
Three firefighters and an unknown number of civilians have suffered burns, but the extent of their injuries was not known, McLean said.
'It's just chaotic. It's wild,' he said. 'There's a lot of fire, a lot of structures burning.'
Firefighters tried in vain to build containment around the blaze on Thursday but flames kept jumping their lines, he said.
'It's just a heck of a fight,' he said. 'They're doing what they can do and they get pushed out in a lot of cases. We're fighting the fight right now.'
He said the fire behavior was so erratic, there were tornadoes within the fire 'tossing around equipment, blowing windows out of Cal Fire pickup trucks'.
'Chaotic' scenes were reported across Redding, a city of 90,000 people, as fast-approaching flames destroyed at least 15 structures, forcing evacuations when officials urged residents to flee the fire's path, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Roads out of the city were jammed with motorists trying to escape the flames, social media postings showed. Thousands of residents were forced to flee the blaze.
Residents of western Redding who had not 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.
'When it hit, people were really scrambling,' McLean said. 'There was not much of a warning.'
Many firefighters turned their focus from the flames to getting people out alive.
'Really we're in a life-saving mode right now in Redding,' said Jonathan Cox, battalion chief with Cal Fire. 'We're not fighting a fire. We're trying to move people out of the path of it because it is now deadly and it is now moving at speeds and in ways we have not seen before in this area.'
Some residents drove to hotels or the homes of family members in safer parts of California, while other evacuees poured into a shelter just outside of town.
A reporter with KRCR-TV in Redding choked up as she reported live updates about the fire before the station had to go off the air later.