Hope grows as deadly blaze in N. California slows down


Associated Press

REDDING, CALIF.

The deadly Northern California wildfire that has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes slowed down Sunday after days of explosive growth, giving officials hope even as they announced the discovery of a sixth fatality.

Meanwhile officials said a second firefighter died fighting a huge blaze to the south near Yosemite National Park. Brian Hughes, 33, was struck by a tree and killed while working as part of a crew removing brush and other fuel near the so-called Ferguson fire’s front lines, national parks officials said.

In Redding, officials stuck a hopeful tone for the first time in days.

“We’re feeling a lot more optimistic today as we’re starting to gain some ground rather than being in a defensive mode on this fire all the time,” said Bret Gouvea, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s incident commander on the blaze around Redding, a city about 230 miles north of San Francisco.

Gouvea spoke at a news conference with fire and law-enforcement officials. Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said authorities found a sixth victim of the blaze at a home that was consumed by flames, though he declined to say where. The victim’s identity was not released.

The sheriff’s department also is investigating seven missing-persons reports, Bosenko said. Redding police have an additional 11 reports of missing people, though many of them may simply not have checked in with friends or family, said Redding police Sgt. Todd Cogle.

The so-called Carr Fire that affected Redding was ignited by a vehicle problem on Monday about 10 miles west of the city.

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