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California fire that killed 3 explodes as firefighters struggle with lack of resources

By Luke Money and Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

A deadly wildfire continued to carve a destructive path through California's Shasta County overnight, swelling to more than 40,000 acres.

The fast-moving Zogg fire - which started Sunday afternoon near the rural community of Igo, about nine miles southwest of Redding - has already been blamed for three deaths, destroyed 146 structures and prompted numerous evacuations in the area.

The blaze is still threatening more than 1,500 structures, fire officials said Tuesday morning.

"Light winds, high temperatures, low humidities and a lack of resources will continue to challenge firefighters today," officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection wrote in an incident report. "Firefighters will continue to focus on structure defense and increasing containment lines."

The fire remained uncontained as of Tuesday morning.

Details about the three people who have died in the fire - including where they were found - have yet to be released. Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini said Monday that authorities were still working to identify the victims and notify their families.

He urged residents to heed orders to evacuate, noting that with this fast-moving blaze, "we're not issuing warnings."

Cal Fire's Shasta-Trinity Unit Chief Bret Gouvea called the fire "another tragedy here in Shasta County that we're all too familiar with."

It was only a little more than two years ago that the Carr fire swept through the area in and around Redding, ultimately charring 229,651 acres, killing eight people and consuming 1,614 structures.

 

"We have faced these tragedies in this county before," Gouvea said during a briefing Monday. "One thing I know about Shasta County is it's very resilient. Two years ago, this county dealt with massive loss, and I saw from (fire) suppression all the way through recovery, the communities come together and quickly recover from these devastating incidents. We will be here until the end, and this county will recover from this."

However, the sheer scope and scale of this year's punishing fire season has strained resources statewide - presenting another challenge for frontline firefighters.

The Zogg fire is one of more than two dozen major wildfires burning throughout California. More than 18,000 firefighters have been deployed to battle those blazes, according to Cal Fire.

Over 8,100 wildfires have sparked just this year, burning more than 3.7 million acres.

The collective death toll from the historic firestorm now stands at 29. More than 7,000 total structures have been destroyed.

"We're dealing with some pretty extreme times in this state," Gouvea said. "I think anybody can see that fire behavior, fire starts and the potential for large fire growth, the damaging fires, is prevalent. It's historic times."

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