REDDING (CBS SF) — As he stood among the debris of what was once his home, Josh Lister was having a hard time processing what his eyes were seeing.
Piles of ash, melted metal and charred brick was also that remained of his once idyllic Redding neighborhood. The level of the Carr Fire’s ferocity was nearly beyond his comprehension.
“It looked like an atomic bomb went off,” he said.
The Carr fire near Redding has destroyed over 800 homes and is now the 7th most destructive fire in California history. By Tuesday, the blaze had burned 110,154 acres, was 27 percent contained and was being battled by thousands of firefighters.
Dave Spliethof is spotter pilot for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It’s his job to flyover fires and direct the air strikes.
Spliethof also lives in Redding. He’s flown over many devastated neighborhoods during his career. Earlier this week, he flew over his own neighborhood.
“I knew at the time — Ok, it’s (his home) gone, it’s gone,” he told CBS News. “(You) just take a deep breath and go back to work…I actually took a picture of it as I flew by.”
When asked how he could go back to work after suffering such a loss, Spliethof said: “I would much rather be out there helping than be here feeling sorry for myself.”
Cal Fire spokesman Jonathan Cox took CBS News on a tour of one of the devastated neighborhood. The fire’s erratic winds formed a rare fire tornado — a towering vortex of flames and embers — as it ripped through the homes.
“So we’re in the spot where the vortex actually came through,” he said pointing to the devastation. “You can see it, it ripped apart fences over here, here it took tops off trees and while it was at it, it burned down his home.”
Nearby was a discarded and damaged fire hose.
“You can see a firefighter hose, presumably (he) was trying to stop this fire,” Cox said. “But it got too hot and it was just too much. That’s how quickly his fire moved.”
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