Sonoma County firefighters help battle Carr fire in Redding; thousands flee homes
Sonoma County firefighters are assisting in the massive effort against the wildfire threatening to engulf the city of Redding, an onslaught of flames that some fire officials and Shasta County residents compared to the firestorm that overran the North Bay in October.
Two firefighters, one an inspector with the city of Redding and another who was a contract operator on a bulldozer, have died battling the Carr fire, which had grown to more than 48,000 acres after breaking out Monday in the hills northwest of Redding.
A strike team of firefighters from the Gold Ridge, Sonoma Valley, Rancho Adobe, Healdsburg and Lakeville fire departments left Tuesday to take part in the effort. Other local departments joined the fight later this week.
Among them were three Marin County firefighters who suffered burns fighting the blaze, including two men from Sonoma County. They were identified as engineer Scott Pederson, 37, of Santa Rosa, and firefighter Brian Cardoza, 26, of Petaluma.
The department in a statement said the unit faced a “sudden blast of heat from vegetation adjacent to a structure.”
The three men, including Tyler Barnes, 34, of Redding, were treated for burns to the ears, face, neck and hands, and were released from Mercy Hospital in Redding.
Cardoza was later transported to UC Davis Medical Center, where he was treated for second-degree burns to his face, nose and neck. He was back home Friday in Petaluma and will be off duty for an extended period of time to recover, said Bret McTigue, public information officer for the Marin County Fire Department. Cardoza joined the department only three months ago, McTigue said.
Pederson, a 19-year veteran of the department, and Barnes were also set to return home Friday evening.
Firefighters from Sonoma County worked Wednesday and into Thursday to defend homes around the town of Shasta, just east of Whiskeytown Lake, said Shepley Schroth-Cary, a battalion chief for the Gold Ridge Fire Protection District who is leading the local strike team.
“We saved quite a few,” Schroth-Cary said of the homes. “We also saw a number of homes burned down.”
The team worked nearly nonstop until their break at 8 p.m. Thursday, about the time the Carr fire began its nighttime run into northwest Redding.
That rampage drew parallels with October’s Tubbs fire, which erupted on a hot, windy night in Calistoga and sped west over mountain ridges and through canyons into Santa Rosa, traveling 12 miles in less than four hours.
Bruce McConnell, a Redding resident who lived in Sonoma County for 25 years, said he was aware of many people displaced by the October fires who were again imperiled by flames in Redding.
“It was just like Tubbs,” he wrote to The Press Democrat. “When the wind flipped (Thursday night), it crossed the (Sacramento) River and covered 2 miles in 15 minutes. We escaped with a wall of flames in front of us. Our house survived miraculously. Half the neighborhood looks just like Fountaingrove. Total devastation. Other neighborhoods were completely destroyed.”
On Friday, the Carr fire pushed further into some residential neighborhoods in Redding, where large swaths of the city of 91,000 residents were under mandatory evacuation.