A massive wildfire located in northern California has burned nearly 99,000 acres and claimed at least six lives so far, including a firefighter and bulldozer operator who were working to put out the fast-moving flames.
Known as the Carr Fire, the blaze started a week ago has already destroyed at least 874 structures in the area and is currently only 17 percent contained according to Cal Fire. Another 5,000 structures are under threat.
Weather conditions on the ground are also hampering the effort to knock down the wildfire as extreme conditions, low humidity and increasing winds have contributed to the fire's explosive behavior.
"These are extreme conditions, this is how fires are burning in California," CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott said.
The National Weather Service warned in a tweet that the heat wave in northern California will continue through the week.
A dangerous heat wave will continue from California to the Pacific Northwest early this week. Triple digit heat combined with dry humidity will only exacerbate the ongoing wildfire situation in California.
Authorities say at least seven people are still listed as missing in Shasta County, California. Up to sixteen had been reported missing according to Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko, but nine of those have been found safe. Authorities say people are having "a lot of communication issues" making it hard for some residents to locate each other.
Six people have been killed by the fire, including a grandmother and two of her great-grandchildren that perished Thursday when their home was overcome by flames. On Saturday, the family confirmed on a GoFundMe page set up to assist with funeral expenses that 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe and 4-year-old Emily Roberts and 5-year-old James Roberts had died when flames overtook the home they were in.
"With a heavy heart we are sad to inform you all that Mel and the great-grandbabies were confirmed to be in the home," the family said on a GoFundMe page.+
The man who lost his wife and great-grandchildren in the Carr Fire said he had no idea their home was in danger when he left to go run an errand. He recalled his grandson's heartbreaking last words as he tried to get back up the road to get them out.
"I was talking to my little grandson on the phone, he was saying, 'Grandpa, please, you gotta come and help us, the fire's at the back door,'" Bledsoe told CBS News correspondent Carter Evans. "I said, 'I'm right by you, honey, just hold on, grandpa's coming.'"
He told CBS Sacramento that his wife wrapped the children in wet blankets and she covered them until the fire came and took them.
"She wet a bunch of blankets and put them down at the side of the bed. She got a wet blanket and put one on her. Got over the top of them, and they lay there until the fire took them," Bledsoe said.
A second person was found dead in another home after a fire destroyed the structure, Bosenko said.
Witnesses say they barely had any time to evacuate before the flames came down into their community. Dominic Galvin said he had to leave his home with only the things he could carry.
"We didn't think the fire was going to come here, so we didn't really take things out. Like everybody else that was scrambling at the last minute to get out when we saw the fire on the ridge. I mean once we saw it there, we knew it was coming but it was too late then," Galvin said.
Two people have passed away while battling the blaze. Jeremy Stoke, a fire inspector with the Redding Fire Department died on Thursday while assisting with evacuations. A second person, a privately-hired bulldozer operator, was also killed on Thursday.
Three firefighters have had to be treated for burns to their ears, hands and face after encountering a "sudden blast of heat" from burning vegetation.
Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean says they're also receiving help from the California National Guard in battling the massive wildfire.
"The firefighters continue to arrive, more resources continue to arrive. National Guard has been engaged, so we're pulling in a lot of resources, including air," McLean said.
Firefighters are struggling to keep up with the Carr Fire as it continues to multiply in size.
"One of the first nights of the fire, second night, was 6,700 acres, the next morning by 4 o'clock in the morning, it was 20,000, 28,000 that afternoon. The following morning, 44,450 acres," said McLean.
More than 3,300 personnel, with more than 300 engines and 17 helicopters are currently assisting in knocking down the monstrous Carr fire Cal Fire said.
It began on July 23 after a vehicle broke down in the area.
Photos: Getty Images