Redding, a city of 92,000 near the OR border, is at grave risk from the Carr fire, which has so far killed two people.
A bulldozer operator was killed in the so-called Carr Fire, a blaze in Shasta County, which has tripled in size in the last 2 days to 28,000 acres (11,300 hectares), the state's forestry and fire protection department said.
Scott McLean, a CalFire spokesman for the crews battling the blaze, said flames swept through the communities of Shasta and Keswick before jumping the Sacramento River and reaching Redding, a city of about 92,000 people - the largest in the region. "There was not much of a warning".
"Really, we're in a life-saving mode right now in Redding", said Jonathan Cox, battalion chief with Cal Fire. The fire had burned an area of more than 44,000 acres by Friday morning, with a containment of just 3 percent.
Anchors at a California TV station were forced to evacuate their studio live on air as they reported on an approaching wildfire Thursday night.
All campsites, hotels and visitor areas will remain closed at least until Sunday, officials said, cutting short summer holidays for... Power went out at the Record Searchlight newspaper, while the news station KRCR had to evacuate its offices for a period of time. Braden Varney, 36, a heavy fire equipment operator, was killed while batting another blaze near Yosemite National Park.
Sharon Stapleton of Shasta, Calif., said she and her husband were awakened when law enforcement officials came to their door in the middle of the night telling them to evacuate. Fire officials warned that the blaze would probably burn deeper into urban areas before there was any hope of containing it.
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The Carr Fire was one of almost 90 large blazes burning nationally, majority across the American West.
"I don't think we can predict which way this fire's going to go, and that's why I didn't take any chances", Ing said. Yesterday, ahead of declaring a disaster emergency for Mariposa County due to the Ferguson Fire, Governor Jerry Brown declared one for Shasta County.
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.
You can also make donations to the Red Cross, which is helping fire evacuees, by clicking here, calling 800-RED-CROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
A 32-year-old man was charged with setting the Cranston fire along with eight others.
This year so far, nearly 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) have been blackened by wildfires, above a 10-year average of 3.6 million acres (1.5 million hectares) over the same period, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
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.