The Carr Fire Incident
During the peak of the fire control efforts, Carr Fire engaged more than 4,700 firefighting personnel from CAL FIRE Shasta-Trinity Unit, US Forest Service and NPS Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. The wildfire, which was first reported on July 2018, caused the evacuation of nearly 40,000 people from the city of Redding. People in Summit City Shasta Lake, Igo, Keswick, Lewiston and French Gulch were also evacuated. Carr Fire left eight people dead, three of whom were firefighters, marking the start of a deadly California wildfire season that would culminate with the butte county camp fire.
How It Started
The first reports of what would eventually become Carr Fire came it in July 23, 2018 at 1:28 pm. Reports indicate that the ignition point was at the intersection of Carr Powerhouse Road and Highway 299 in the Whiskeytown District of Shasta County. Further investigations revealed that a vehicle that was towing a dual-axle travel trailer accidentally caused the fire. As it reached the intersection, one of the tires of the trailer blew out. The steel rim scraped the pavement and created sparks that jumped on and ignited the dry brush along the side of the highway.
The prevailing hot weather, topography and winds caused the fire to spread rapidly. During the previous week, the weather in Redding reached 113 according the National Weather Service.
The inaccessible terrain and the area’s unusual topography made the containment efforts as difficult for the responding firefighters during the Carr Fire as the ones facing the Potter Valley Fire. The firefighters scrambled to fortify containment lines with slow progress. Highway 299 was immediately closed and mandatory evacuation started in French Gulch.
Carr Fire Spreads
By July 26, the burn area of Carr Fire grew from 1,500 acres by the day’s end in July 23 to more than 20,000 acres. A huge fire whirl that some experts refer to as a “firenado” developed as Carr Fire razed through Redding City. Reaching a maximum height of 18,000 feet, the firenado inflicted tornado-like damage felling transmission lines, uprooting trees and shredding foliage as it spread more fire along its path.
The burn area further spread to more than 100,000 acres by July 31, something comparable to the Nurse Fire, but the wildfire’s containment was only at 30 percent. Challenging terrain and more dry fuel on the wildfire’s path, along with strong winds made it difficult for firefighters to control the fire. By August 4, the burn area was estimated to have grown to more than 145,000. The eight and last fatality of Carr Fire was reported on August 9 as it grew to more than 178,000 acres.
On the evening of August 30, 2018, just a few weeks before the Eden Fire, officials reported that Carr Fire was 100% contained. The wildfire had left a burn area measuring more than 229,000 acres and razing 1,000 homes, 500 outbuildings and 21 commercial structures to the ground. At the height of Carr Fire, some 55,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Shasta and Trinity counties.