California wildfires kill 8 people, and brutal heat spells more danger

Updated 1:06 AM EDT, Wed August 1, 2018
In this Friday, July 27, 2018 photo, a firefighting helicopter makes a water drop as the sun sets over a ridge burning near Redding, Calif., in efforts against the Carr Fire. Scorching heat, winds and dry conditions complicated firefighting efforts. (Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee/ AP
Hector Amezcua/AP
In this Friday, July 27, 2018 photo, a firefighting helicopter makes a water drop as the sun sets over a ridge burning near Redding, Calif., in efforts against the Carr Fire. Scorching heat, winds and dry conditions complicated firefighting efforts. (Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee/ AP
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BIG BEND, CA - NOVEMBER 10:  The Camp Fire burns in the hills on November 10, 2018 near Big Bend, California. Fueled by high winds and low humidity the Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise charring 105,000 acres, killed 23 people and has destroyed over 6,700 homes and businesses. The fire is currently at 20 percent containment.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Flames burn inside a van as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town and destroyed hundreds of structures. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
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An airplane flies over a large wildfire plume from a recent flareup of the Woolsey Fire near Lake Sherwood, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Forecasters had warned of continuing fire danger in Southern California due to persistent Santa Ana winds, the withering, dry gusts that sweep out of the interior toward the coast, pushing back moist ocean breezes.  (AP Photo/Amanda Myers)
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An airplane flies over a large wildfire plume from a recent flareup of the Woolsey Fire near Lake Sherwood, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Forecasters had warned of continuing fire danger in Southern California due to persistent Santa Ana winds, the withering, dry gusts that sweep out of the interior toward the coast, pushing back moist ocean breezes. (AP Photo/Amanda Myers)
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A firefighter runs while trying to save a home as a wildfire tears through Lakeport, Calif., Tuesday, July 31, 2018. The residence eventually burned. Firefighters pressed their battle against a pair of fires across Mendocino and Lake counties. In all, roughly 19,000 people have been warned to flee and 10,000 homes remain under threat. Noah Berger/AP
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CNN —  

The mammoth infernos raging across California will likely get worse before they get better, with menacing weather forecast for the rest of the week.

Eight people have already died from two of the most destructive wildfires – the Carr and Ferguson fires.

Smoke from the Carr and Ferguson fires can be seen in satellite images.
NOAA
Smoke from the Carr and Ferguson fires can be seen in satellite images.

“California can expect to see hot, dry and breezy conditions through the end of the week,” CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said.

“California can expect to see hot, dry and breezy conditions through the end of the week,” CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said.

Temperatures will soar into the lower 100s in many places, Norman said, and whipping winds will be “wildly fluctuating as the fires generate their own localized wind.”

Here’s a look at some of the most dangerous wildfires burning in the state now:

Carr Fire’s destruction is ‘like an atomic bomb’

Six people have died in this blaze, including three members of the same family.

The Carr Fire was 35% contained early Wednesday, Cal Fire said.

Redding police said everyone reported missing in Shasta County had been found. The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office said it took 60 missing persons reports in the early days of the fire.

Josh Lister and his family lost their home and belongings after the fire swept through Redding, a city of almost 100,000 people.

“It was a firestorm when we left,” Lister said.

Afterward, he was stunned to see the devastation in his neighborhood.

“It looked like an atomic bomb went off,” he said.

The Carr Fire is so large and intense that it created its own localized weather system, making it difficult to predict which way the blaze will spread.

More than 4,000 fire personnel are battling the flames, but triple-digit heat, shifting winds, dry fuel and steep terrain are working against them, officials said. Roughly 15,000 residents have been evacuated.

The flames were sparked July 23 by the mechanical failure of a vehicle, Cal Fire said. Since then, it has destroyed more than 1,018 homes.

Ferguson Fire kills 2 people

An abundance of trees killed by drought and bark beetles has helped the Ferguson Fire spread quickly.
NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images
An abundance of trees killed by drought and bark beetles has helped the Ferguson Fire spread quickly.

After 20 days of destruction, the Ferguson Fire in central California was only 39% contained as of Wednesday.

Two people have been killed in the fire, but no houses have been damaged or destroyed, fire officials said – although about 2,800 structures are threatened.

A huge problem facing firefighters is that the flames are largely burning in steep, inaccessible terrain.

Unlike the Carr Fire, authorities don’t know what started the Ferguson Fire, which has now engulfed nearly 63,000 acres.

Wildfires ‘we have historically never seen’ before

In the past several days, smoke from the California wildfires has stretched all the way to Oklahoma.

And California has already spent a quarter of its firefighting budget for the year in the month of July.

Cal Fire spokesman Jonathan Cox said the intensity of this summer’s wildfires is historic.

“What we’re seeing in California right now is more destructive, larger fires burning at rates that we have historically never seen,” he said.

CNN’s Amanda Watts, Judson Jones, AJ Willingham and Brandon Miller contributed to this report.