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2 Kids, Great-Grandma Die in 'War Zone' of Calif. Wildfire

Flames raced through property while great-grandfather had gone to get supplies
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 29, 2018 5:37 AM CDT
Police tape blocks the house where three people were found dead following a wildfire in Redding, Calif., Saturday, July 28, 2018. The death count from a rapidly growing Northern California wildfire rose...   (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)
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(Newser) – The death count from a Northern California wildfire rose to five Saturday after two young children and their great-grandmother who had been unaccounted for were confirmed dead. "My babies are dead," Sherry Bledsoe said through tears, per the AP. Bledsoe's two children, James Roberts, 5, and Emily Roberts, 4, were stranded with her grandmother Melody Bledsoe, 70, when walls of flames swept through the family's rural property Thursday outside Redding. The three were among more than a dozen people reported missing after the furious wind-driven blaze took residents by surprise and leveled several neighborhoods. Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said he expects to find several of those people alive and just out of touch with loved ones. Officers have gone to homes of several people reported missing and found cars gone—a strong indication they fled.

The fire sparked Monday by a vehicle had scorched 131 square miles by late Saturday, and is now California's largest fire burning. About 38,000 were under evacuation orders, 5,000 homes were threatened, and the fire was just 5% contained. The fire blew across the Sacramento River to the property where Melody Bledsoe was living with her great-grandchildren. Bledsoe's husband, Ed, who had the couple's only car, had gone to buy supplies. His great-grandson phoned him to say flames were approaching and "we need your help," per Jason Decker, who is dating one of Bledsoe's granddaughters. Bledsoe rushed home, but was turned back by police. Decker later found smoldering ruins at the property too hot to enter. "It looked like a war zone." Decker held out hope Saturday until he got the word they were dreading. "We got horrible news. I have to go," he said.

(Read more wildfires stories.)

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