A bulldozer operator was killed in the so-called Carr Fire, a blaze in Shasta County that has tripled in size in the last two days to 28,000 acres (11,300 hectares), the state's forestry and fire protection department said.
Authorities urged other residents in nearby areas to evacuate and said more evacuation orders could follow.
This year so far, nearly 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) have been blackened by wildfires, above a 10-year average of 3.6 million acres (1.5 million hectares) over the same period, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Firefighters tried in vain to build containment around the blaze Thursday, but flames kept jumping their lines, he said. The National Weather Service said Friday that a red flag warning - which indicates a heightened fire risk - would remain in effect until midnight, with gusting winds and low humidity expected to potentially fuel a "dangerous and rapid spread" of fire.
"When it hit, people were really scrambling", McLean said.
An air tanker drops retardant while battling the Ferguson fire in Stanislaus National Forest, near Yosemite National Park, California on July 21, 2018. (Picture: AP) A house burns during the Carr fire in Redding, California (Picture: AFP) More than 1,700 firefighters are battling the blaze, Cal Fire said in an evening advisory.
McLean says the situation is "very dynamic" and that it's "a heck of a fight".
More than 3,300 firefighters are working the fire, aided by 16 helicopters. They also warned of possible afternoon wind gusts that could create risky fire conditions.
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Late Thursday, crews found the body of the bulldozer operator who had been hired privately to clear vegetation in the blaze's path, McLean said.
The Carr Fire burned across a stretch of California about two hours south of the OR border.
"This fire is extremely unsafe and is moving with no regard to what's on its path", Cal Fire Incident Commander Chief Brett Gouvea told reporters. Thousands of homes have been evacuated on the western edge of Redding, which has a population of about 90,000.
"We were fortunate enough that the wind changed about hours ago and it is pushing the fire back", said Wright, at about 1:15 a.m. local time.
"They're doing what they can, they're trying to make a stand where they can", McLean said. "We live in a lovely town", Achtner told the newspaper. It prompted a large regional response, including 180 personnel from agencies such as the Contra Costa County Fire Protections District among other local agencies, CBS SF BayArea reported. The state is battling ferocious fires at both ends of the state.
The Cranston Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest has now burned 4,700 acres, destroying 5 homes, and is just 5% contained.
Officials from the San Bernardino National Forest told residents on Thursday the fire would cause closures for several campgrounds and picnic areas as well.