SHASTA COUNTY (CBS13) – The firefight has been nonstop as crews work to battle the blaze that killed 2 people, destroyed 500 buildings, and scorched more than 48,000 acres.
It started Monday afternoon by a broken down car. By Thursday evening, a wind storm turned the area into an inferno, doubling the amount of acreage burned earlier in the week.
Firefighters in the air battled smoke-filled skies on Friday by helicopter and air tankers to increase containment.
At times the planes were grounded because visibility was so bad.
Home after home was destroyed. Wicked wind-driven fires forced people to flee and leave what they’ve built behind.
“The flames were right there. It was time to go,” said Kathie Reid from Redding.
Those flames torched an industrial business, leaving thousands of boards and beams burning.
The fire triggered the evacuation of the Keswick Dam. Operators opened the gates to let the water flow through before fleeing for safety.
Many people living within the city limits thought their homes would be safe, but the firestorm was so powerful that people lost everything. But of the homes that were destroyed, there were still a few bright spots.
“I have survivors remorse,” said Reed.
Her family’s home is one that’s still standing.
“We knew our house was gone,” she thought. “We couldn’t believe that we came back today we still had our house.”
Crews were hoping to keep the flames to the southwest side of the Sacramento River, but the wind and the flames and the heat were so intense it jumped the water to the other side — destroying hundreds of homes.
“There was fire on both sides of the road, there were houses coming down and houses that were already down,” said Robert Overall of Red Bluff. “To me, it kind of looked like an apocalyptic horror film. It was crazy.”
Overall is an out-of-town fuel-truck operator who was gassing up a fleet of fire engines.
“They have a better outlook on their face when I asked them, how’s it going? But they still say it’s a tough fire,” he said.
And it’s a tough fight as firefighters try to keep the flames from jumping once again.
“I mean, fire has no mercy. It takes everything you’ve got,” Reid said.
As of Friday night, nine people were still missing and 48,313 acres had burned.