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California fires: 50,000 people evacuated as deadly flames destroy hundreds of buildings

She desperately put a wet blanket over her great-grandchildren as their home burned. All three died

At least six civilians and two firefighters were killed and over 650 homes were destroyed as a massive wildfire engulfed a large part of forest in California. Authorities have intensified their operations as dozens of firefighters have been deployed to control the raging inferno.

Meanwhile officials said a second firefighter died fighting a huge blaze to the south near Yosemite National Park.

An army of some 3,500 firefighters and a squadron of 17 water-dropping helicopters had carved buffer lines around just 5 percent of the fire's perimeter as of Sunday.

Fire officials say the erratic behavior of the blaze, stoked by high winds and triple-digit temperatures, has complicated efforts to contain the conflagration.

"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 (370 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

More than 50,000 people have been evacuated in Northern California bushfires that have killed five, including two children and their great-grandmother, as fire crews battled on to quell flames that have destroyed entire neighbourhoods.

"With a heavy heart we are sad to inform you all that Mel and the great grand babies were confirmed to be in the home", the family said on a GoFundMe page. "I was trying to get to them, I was trying to get to the fire".

Fliers were created. The family even created a GoFundMe page because, according to that page, Bledsoe was renting the home and didn't have insurance.

"If there's limited winds, it gives us the chance to get on the fire's edge and try to stop it", he said. "You're frightened a little bit because you don't know if you're going to come back to your house and the town is going to be different".

"She got a wet blanket and put one on her".

"That just shows that she did everything she could 'til the very end", Decker said.

Macken, who is retired, told AFP that she met other panic-stricken neighbours at a nearby shopping centre - and watched from afar as her home went up in flames. People across the state right now should be on alert that if there's a fire that is burning in the area, although it may look small and fairly benign at one point, can quickly change, and Redding was an unfortunate and tragic example of just how fast conditions can change on these fires.

Six civilians, including two firefighters, have thus far have been killed, and according to CNN, seven more civilians are missing.

"Everyone we come into contact [with] in those neighborhoods, if they don't have a legitimate reason to be there, if we don't arrest them for looting, they'll be arrested for something else", he said. "Triple-digit heat combined with dry humidity will only exacerbate the ongoing wildfire situation in California", it said on Twitter.

Another person was found after the fire consumed another home in Shasta County, Sheriff Tom Bosenko said in a Sunday news conference.

It was caused by a vehicle mechanical failure, authorities said. As of Monday it had torched more than 98,000 acres.

The death toll from the state's wildfires continued to mount Sunday, with eight fatalities now reported from blazes burning in Shasta County and near Yosemite National Park.

As reported by NBC, authorities issued evacuation orders in Napa County when several structures caught fire in the Berryessa Highlands on Saturday.

Hughes, who was originally from Hilo, Hawaii, had worked with the Arrowhead hotshots for four years.