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Law Enforcement, Firefighting Professionals Describe Out-of-Control Carr Fire

At Cal Fire press conferences Thursday and Friday a half a dozen law enforcement and fire-fighting professionals – people not known for hyperbole – didn’t mince words when they described the Carr Fire.

Out of control. Unprecedented. Exponential fire. Extreme conditions. Aggressive burning. Fast-moving fire. Unpredictable. Tornado-style winds. Burning in all directions, all at the same time.

The information about the Carr Fire continues to change by the hour, confirmed by Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott Thursday at the press conference.

He described in horrifying detail the part that fire tornadoes are playing in the Carr Fire.

Redding Police Chief Roger Moore talked about what his department and officers are doing to keep citizens safe.

Redding Police Chief Roger Moore speaks to reporters at Cal Fire’s Thursday press conference. Moore is one of scores of people who’ve lost homes to the Carr Fire. Photo by Doni Chamberlain

Moore stressed the importance of obeying evacuations. He suggested that everyone – even those who’ve not been evacuated – have an evacuation plan. Collect valuables in one place. Have your vehicle gassed up and ready to go.

If you feel you’re in harm’s way. Leave. Don’t wait for an official warning. Trust your gut. If you’re evacuated, stay out until you’re told otherwise. Lay citizens are not the ones to decide if an area is safe or not. Leave that to the professionals. Once an area has been evacuated, there will not be second evacuations or neighborhood sweeps to check for those who chose to put law enforcement and firefighters’ lives at risk by returning to evacuated areas.

These are the best of times, with people helping each other. It also brings out the worst in some people, and Moore reported lootings in some evacuated neighborhoods. Moore said that Redding Police Department has some looting suspects, and his officers are doing their best to monitor the evacuated areas.

What Moore did not disclose – in either press conference – was that his own family home was destroyed by fire Wednesday night about 7 p.m.  The same was true of Moore’s father’s home, along with many family keepsakes and memories.

Asked how his family was doing, Moore responded, “They’re fine. They’re scared.”

Thus far, the Carr Fire is far from being contained. It’s at 80,000 and climbing. More than 500 structures have been officially declared as destroyed, but the numbers are expected to climb much higher during clean-up and assessment.

Two men died in the line of fire-fighting duty: Dozer operator Ron Ray Smith, 81, of Pollock Pines, and Redding Fire Department Inspector Jeremy Stoke. Three Modesto firefighters were also injured and hospitalized. Many private citizens have also been injured in the Carr Fire.

Today, it was confirmed that a great-grandmother and her two grandchildren died when their home was overcome by the Carr Fire. The deceased were identified as 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe and her great-grandchildren, 5-year-old James Roberts and 4-year-old Emily Roberts.

For updates about evacuations, road closures, evacuation centers and other information, keep checking here on aNewsCafe.com where Barbara Rice is posting new information as quickly as she receives it.

Look to the top of our page — at the masthead — to click on rotating KQMS radio and KRCR television links for live coverage.

Please stay safe.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.

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