It was Thursday evening when the Carr fire barreled out of the foothills and took aim at this city, with hot winds launching embers well ahead of the main blaze and engulfing neighborhoods along bends in the Sacramento River.
When the flames approached western Redding, Shasta County officials issued mandatory evacuation orders. But those warnings may not have reached everyone amid the chaos. A woman and her two great-grandchildren were trapped in their home when the fire hit. She placed a wet blanket on the kids and huddled over them, but that was no match for the Carr fire. All three died.
Authorities said they did everything they could to alert residents to the coming danger — using social media, reverse 911 calls and public announcements. But, officials acknowledged, there may have been shortfalls given the ferocious nature of the fire that night.
“It’s highly possible they didn’t get a notification,” said Sherry Bartolo, operations manager for Shasta County’s emergency dispatch system. “In my 38-year career, I’ve never had anything that was that devastating to my staff. Now I know what Napa and Santa Rosa and those agencies went through. I couldn’t imagine it until I went through it.”
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