The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services said it had activated a state operations center to provide assistance in multiple wildfires burning in Northern and Southern California.
The flames moved so fast that firefighters working in oven-like temperatures and bone-dry conditions had to drop efforts to battle the blaze at one point to help people escape. The "mechanical failure of a vehicle" ignited the blaze in Whiskeytown Monday, officials said. The Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park, which has charred 45,911 acres (18,500 hectares), was 29 percent contained.
The blaze on Thursday killed a bulldozer operator as he worked to try to contain the blaze.
The blaze has killed two so far - a bulldozer operator and a firefighter - and has burned three firefighters, destroyed dozens of homes and forced thousands of terrified residents to flee, the AP reported.
CalFire reported 65 structures destroyed by the blaze, but McLean called that tally a "placeholder" figure that would grow significantly, with the number of homes lost likely to run into "the hundreds" as the scope of devastation was fully assessed. "There's a lot of fire, a lot of structures burning". The blaze was just 3 percent contained as ground crews, water-dropping helicopters and airplane tankers battled the flames for a fifth day.
What Ing witnessed was the Carr Fire, a rapidly growing blaze that jumped the Sacramento River and entered Redding's city limits on the west side of town on Thursday.
Sharon Stapleton of Shasta, Calif., said she and her husband were awakened when law enforcement officials came to their door in the middle of the night telling them to evacuate.
A wildfire in a rural northern region of California has tripled in size overnight and more evacuations have been ordered.
Firefighters face a hard task in the days ahead, with dry conditions and temperatures expected to reach 110 F on Friday.
Journalists at the Record Searchlight newspaper tweeted about continuing to report on the fire without electricity in their newsroom, and a reporter at KHSL-TV wrote on Twitter that the station's Redding reporters were "running home to gather their things".
"I don't think we can predict which way this fire's going to go, and that's why I didn't take any chances", Ing said.
A firefighter from the city of Redding was killed as a result of the Carr Fire, California officials said in a statement Friday.
On Thursday, she says a friend who lives about a mile away called her around 8 p.m.
A 32-year-old man is under arrest, booked on five counts of arson.