August 04, 2018
It happens countless times on roads across America: a vehicle gets a flat tire, usually just a temporary inconvenience.
But on one road near Redding, California, when a tire failed last month on a trailer and its rim scraped the asphalt, the result was catastrophic for an entire region.
The sparks that shot out July 23 from that minor incident, California fire officials said, ignited what is now the sixth-most destructive wildfire in state history.
The Carr Fire blazed a fiery path along Highway 299, lighting up mile after mile of dry brush as it crept up on residential areas.
The blaze turned everything it touched into ash, mangled metal and black embers, and is still burning nearly two weeks later. It's killed six people, scorched more than 145,000 acres and is the deadliest of 17 blazes racing through the state.
A flat tire started the deadly Carr Fire and days of devastation in California
It caught residents by surprise
Ed Bledsoe lost his wife and their two great-grandchildren in the fire, all within 15 minutes.
The Shasta County resident had left home to see a doctor, unaware of the fire's erratic movement. At the time, it had burned for three days, but away from his neighborhood.

While he was out, his wife, Melody Bledsoe, 70, called and told him the fire was getting closer to their home. She begged him to come get her and their great-grandchildren: Emily Roberts, 4, and James Roberts, 5.
James took the phone and pleaded with his great-grandfather to hurry up and save them.
"He just kept saying, 'Grandpa, Come get me ... come on, Grandpa,' " Ed Bledsoe said.
He dropped everything and rushed home. But the roads were congested and the heat and flames so intense, the area near his house was cordoned off. His wife and the two children were among the six people killed in the Carr Fire.
"I tried to call them back and it just went to nothing," Bledsoe said as he wept. "Poor babies and my wife."
The winds caused a tornado of fire
The day Bledsoe's family died, the winds were so strong in Redding, they uprooted trees, ripped off roofs and downed power lines. Experts described it as a "firenado," when a fire's intense heat causes the air to heat up and rise rapidly. That, combined with strong winds, creates a vortex similar to a dust devil that pulls fires in different directions.
Redding resident Dominic Galvin said he and his wife did not think the fire would get that big so fast, and scrambled to get out at the last minute.
"When we saw the fire on the ridge ... once we saw it there we knew it was coming, but it was too late then," he said.
Firefighters suffered losses, too
Firefighter David Spliethof was doing his job as a spotter pilot, flying over the fiery chaos to assess damage and flag trouble. As he flew over his neighborhood this week, he realized his home had burned to ashes, too.
He took a picture of the charred debris where his house once stood and continued fighting the blaze, at times working 24-hour shifts with some of the more than 4,300 people fighting the Carr Fire.
"I don't feel that I did anything special," he said of continuing to work despite losing his home. "Once I saw my house gone ... there's going to be plenty of time to go back through the remains and see what we can salvage."
Other firefighters lost their lives while trying to save others.
Of the six people killed in the Carr Fire, two were firefighters: Jeremy Stoke, who was helping evacuate people, and an unidentified bulldozer operator killed while fighting the flames.
The Carr Fire, named after the location where it began, has burned more than 1,500 structures to the ground and is one of 17 major wildfires stretching state resources, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. said.
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