The Latest: Residents scrambled to escape California blaze

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REDDING, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on California's devastating wildfires (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

Residents of a Redding, California, neighborhood where several homes were destroyed say they had to scramble to escape the blaze.

Jim Chapin says he got home at around 7:30 p.m. Thursday and police were there telling people to evacuate the Lake Redding Estates neighborhood.

Chapin says his wife left, but he stayed behind to hose down the roof, gutters and fallen leaves.

He says that shortly afterward, the fire was burning trees behind neighbors' homes and ferocious winds whipped up branches, burning leaves, garbage-can lids, wood and other debris.

Chapin says the streets were so jammed with traffic that there was no way for firefighters to come in.

The 79-year-old returned to the neighborhood Friday and cried when he found his home still standing.

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1:10 p.m.

The Redding, California, firefighter killed by a massive blaze in Northern California has been identified as Jeremy Stoke.

The Redding firefighters union says Stoke was a fire inspector but released no other information.

He was the second victim of the blaze that started Monday in Shasta County.

Crews on Thursday found the body of a bulldozer operator who was hired privately to clear vegetation in the blaze's path.

Officials said the fire burned over the operator as he worked to try to contain the blaze.

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12:30 p.m.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean says at least 37,000 people had to evacuate after a fatal blaze tore through Northern California communities.

McLean says they are asking people to promptly heed evacuation orders.

Fire officials say strong winds pushed the massive wildfire into the city of Redding on Thursday.

Dennis Beck, chief of the Shasta Lake Fire Protection District, tells the Record Searchlight that firefighters are bracing for winds forecast for Friday afternoon that could blow the blaze into the city of Shasta Lake, north of Redding.

Beck says the entire city remains under mandatory evacuation.

He says easterly winds that could reach up to 8 miles per hour are expected by 4 p.m. Friday.

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12:15 p.m.

Officials say the three firefighters injured while fighting a massive blaze burning in Northern California were treated for burns to their ears, face and hands.

The Marin County Fire Department says its three firefighters were assigned to defend buildings when they were hit by a "sudden blast of heat."

The department says all were treated at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California, and released and that one of them will be evaluated at UC Davis Burn Center in Sacramento.

One firefighter and a bulldozer operator have been killed by the fire.

Hospital spokesman Mike Mangas says five civilians were also treated for fire-related injuries. He says their injuries are not serious.

He says six babies in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit where premature newborns receive care were evacuated to the UC Davis Children's Hospital out of precaution.

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12:00 p.m.

Steve Hobson says he thought he'd stay behind to save his house as a Northern California wildfire raged but heat from the flames burned his skin and the smoke made it hard to breathe.

The former urban and wildland firefighter from the city of Redding said Friday he felt the fire sucking the air from the around him, whipping up swirling embers in a "fire tornado."

He says police pounded on doors telling everyone to leave and that he fled through walls of burning embers on both sides of the street.

He returned to his home Friday morning and found the perimeter fence of his house burned along with a backyard shed.

But he says his house made it through the night.

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11:38 a.m.

A spokesman says the number of homes and structures threated by a Northern California wildfire has increased tenfold to 5,000 after the fire exploded overnight.

CalFire spokesman Scott Kenney said Friday that the updated number reflects recent evacuations.

Kenney says the fire is only 3 percent contained and could spread in any direction.

Officials have put the destruction at 65 structures, though it is likely to jump much higher.

Dozens of homes were destroyed in subdivisions along the Sacramento River.

At least two dozen homes in Redding Lakes Estates were smoldering, though others escaped the flames unscathed.

Aerial footage showed dozens of homes were also in ruins in Keswick Lake Estates to the north.

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11:17 a.m.

A 32-year-old man has been charged with intentionally starting nine Southern California fires, including one that has chased thousands of residents of from mountain communities.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office says Brandon McGlover of Temecula will be arraigned Friday on 15 felony counts that carry a potential sentence of life in prison.

All nine fires were set Wednesday in the Idyllwild, Anza and Sage areas about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. One became the Cranston Fire that has grown to 18 square miles (46 square kilometers) in the Idyllwild area of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Five homes have been destroyed, more than 4,900 structures are threatened and an estimated 6,000 people have been evacuated.

McGlover is being held in lieu of $1 million bail. He's scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

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11:00 a.m.

An official says more than 5,000 people have been evacuated to shelters and that authorities expect a destructive blaze in Northern California to continue moving into urban areas.

California Governor's Office of Emergency Services spokesman Kelly Huston says they are coordinating bringing in aircraft from the California National Guard to help fight the flames.

Officials say the extremely erratic wildfire near the city of Redding is growing rapidly amid scorching temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions. Temperatures are forecast to reach 110 degrees (43 Celsius) on Friday.

Huston says officials are moving emergency supplies including cots and food to four shelters set up in Shasta County.

He says the shelters are preparing for what could be a "longer-term" event.

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10:20 a.m.

A hospital official says eight people with fire-related injuries have been treated at the Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California.

Hospital spokesman Mike Mangas says three of the injured are firefighters hurt in a fatal blaze burning in Shasta County.

He says none of the injuries are serious.

Mangas says people are arriving at the hospital with respiratory problems.

Mangas says six babies in its neonatal intensive care unit, which cares for premature newborns, were evacuated out of precaution.

He says the hospital was preparing high-risk patients to be evacuated, but the hospital remains open and fully functional.

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9:25 a.m.

Residents of Northern California communities impacted by a massive wildfire say they had minutes to evacuate after officials knocked on their doors in the middle of the night as the fire expanded rapidly.

Sharon Stapleton tells the Record Searchlight newspaper that she and her husband grabbed a pillow, some shirts and pants, medicine, important documents and their two dogs and left in their sport utility vehicle and their motor home.

Stapleton says they left after a police officer knocked on their door Thursday, which was her 71st birthday.

Stapleton says she celebrated while sitting on a folding chair on the grassy lawn outside a shopping center in Redding, California, making calls to find out if their rented home survived.

She says some of her neighbors stayed put, hoping to ride out the firestorm.

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8:30 a.m.

Fire officials say 65 structures have been destroyed by a fatal wildfire tearing through rural Northern California towns. That's up from a previous report of 15 destroyed.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says 500 other buildings are threatened by the massive blaze that has killed two firefighters.

Officials say the extremely erratic wildfire in and around the city of Redding is growing rapidly amid scorching temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions.

The blaze that began Monday grew overnight Thursday to 70 square miles (180 square kilometers).

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8:05 a.m.

Official say a firefighter has been killed by a massive Northern California wildfire, raising the death toll to 2.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Friday that a firefighter with the fire department in the city of Redding was killed fighting the blaze in Shasta County.

The department says it is investigating the death. No other details were provided.

The blaze on Thursday killed a bulldozer operator as he worked to try to contain the blaze.

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7:40 a.m.

A wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California has grown to 18 square miles (46 square kilometers).

Authorities say just 3 percent of the fire's perimeter is contained Friday morning. Conditions are calm but gusty winds are expected by afternoon.

The fire allegedly was intentionally set Wednesday and quickly spread through timber and brush near the town of Idyllwild and other communities about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Los Angeles.

More than 4,900 structures are threatened and an estimated 6,000 people have been evacuated.

In the Sierra Nevada, the Ferguson Fire continues to grow just outside Yosemite National Park.

Authorities say it is now nearly 72 square miles (186 square kilometers), but containment has increased to 29 percent.

Yosemite Valley and the Wawona and Mariposa Grove areas of the national park remain closed.

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7:10 a.m.

Hundreds of people who fled their homes because of a massive Northern California wildfire are crowding into shelters as the blaze brightens the sky with a red glow.

Videos posted to social media show long lines of cars slowly moving on a highway near the city of Redding as the wildfire rages on the hills behind.

Dozens of evacuees are going to Shasta College, where officials have set up a shelter. Another shelter has been set up at an elementary school.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered overnight for the city of Shasta Lake, which has about 10,000 residents.

People in the western part of Redding, which has about 92,000 residents, were also asked to evacuate.

The blaze grew overnight to 70 square miles (180 square kilometers).

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6:40 a.m.

More evacuations have been ordered as a devastating wildfire torches an area in and around the Northern California city of Redding. 

The blaze that broke out Monday exploded late Thursday and raced into small communities west of Redding before entering the city limits.

Fire officials say dozens of homes have burned, though conditions make it impossible to determine an accurate count and the number could climb much higher.

A bulldozer operator on the fire lines was killed and three firefighters suffered burns. Some civilians also have been injured.

Mandatory evacuations were extended overnight to include the city of Shasta Lake, which has about 10,000 residents.

Parts of Redding, which has about 92,000 residents and is the largest city in the region, also have been evacuated. 

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2 a.m.

An explosive wildfire tore through two small Northern California communities, killing a bulldozer operator on the fire lines, burning three firefighters, destroying dozens of homes and forcing thousands of terrified residents to flee.

Flames swept through the communities of Shasta and Keswick before jumping the Sacramento River on Thursday and reaching Redding It's a city of about 92,000 people and the largest in the region.

Residents in the western part of Redding who hadn't been under evacuation orders were caught off guard and had to flee with little notice, causing miles-long traffic jams as flames turned the skies orange.

Many firefighters turned their focus from the flames to getting people out alive.

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