One Dead As California Battles Raging Wildfire Spreading Near City

Police arrest man suspected of starting California wildfire

At least two firefighters have died fighting a fast-growing wildfire that sent residents fleeing from the northern Californian city of Redding, where homes and businesses burned and power was cut on Friday, fire officials said.

Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said the Carr Fire in Shasta County is "taking everything down in its path", having already burned dozens of homes in the communities of Shasta, Keswick and the west side of Redding on Thursday night, adding that Redding residents had little warning try to evacuate.

The Ferguson fire, another blaze in central California about 300 miles away from the one in Riverside County, shuttered parts of Yosemite National Park earlier this week through at least Sunday, authorities said.

The so-called Cranston Fire, which erupted Wednesday in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles, turned into a wall of flame that torched timber and tinder-dry brush. Officials said they had dispatched more than 1,700 fire personnel, including dozens of fire crews, more than 100 fire engines along with bulldozers, helicopters and vehicles to deliver water.

Evacuations were ordered for areas around the city of Redding. He's scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta on one count of aggravated arson, five counts of arson of an inhabited structure and nine counts of arson of forest or wildland.

The fire is one of several across California amid a statewide heat wave. CHP says he was driving a auto that matched the description of a vehicle seen near the origin of the fire.

Mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect for those areas and were expanded midday Thursday to include the communities of Pine Cove, Fern Valley and Cedar Glen. That fire, which destroyed five homes, is believed to have been sparked by arson.

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The California fire started on Wednesday and has spread to 4,700 acres as firefighters continue to tackle the ferocious flames. Fire engines also were stationed to protect homes. The closure was heartbreaking for travelers, many of whom mapped out their trips months in advance to hike and climb amid the spectacular views of cascading waterfalls and sheer rock faces.

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling that blaze, which has scorched 7,500 acres and is only 5% contained.

Teague says staff and volunteers were mindful of the brightening glow of the fire burning nearby in the hills above Redding.

"You go there and expect the fresh air and it was the total opposite of that", she said today. It was reported to be just 27 percent contained.

In the north, new evacuations were expanded to about 2,200 people in the wilderness recreation region near Redding that included Shasta and its historic former courthouse and ruins of brick buildings that make up Shasta State Historic Park.

The fire in Shasta County was estimated at more than 31 square miles (80 square kilometers) Thursday morning.

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