Firefighters find body of 70-year-old woman draped over her grandchildren as they died in California wildfire
Sheriff Tom Bosenko, in a press conference on Sunday, said that the old woman, her two grandchildren, and two firefighters were among the dead.
A wildfire, which is rapidly spreading into a Northern California town of 92,000 residents, has killed a 70-year-old woman along with her two young grandchildren. The death toll, which stands at 6 now, was increased after the deaths of a couple of firefighters.
As the wildfire doubled in size on Saturday, searing over 83,000 acres of land, it trapped residents inside their homes in Redding, and included the grandmother and her grandchildren. Reports state that one of the young victims of the tragedy, a five-year-old boy, repeatedly called 911, desperate for help as the blaze took his life, according to ABC News.
Sheriff Tom Bosenko, in a press conference on Sunday, said that the old woman, her two grandchildren, and two firefighters were among the dead. He also added that another person was found dead after the wildfire consumed another home in Shasta County.
The 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe and her great-grandchildren, four-year-old Emily and five-year-old James Roberts had been declared missing by their family on Thursday and a desperate search for them was called off on Saturday after relatives confirmed their bodies were found in their home in Shasta County, which was completely burned down.
The family set up a GoFundMe page for them, which stated that the three were last heard on Thursday as the blaze closed in on their neighborhood. Reports state that the residents in that region were not warned to evacuate.
A family friend Jason Decker, while talking to CNN affiliate KGO, said that the grandmother was found "draped over the children" and had wrapped them in wet blankets.
"That just shows that she did everything she could 'til the very end," Decker added.
Decker, while talking about the children, said that Emily loved to socialize and play with other children in the region and "lip up the room," while James — who idolized his grandfather — loved wearing suspenders and use a chainsaw just like his grandad.
The grandfather, Ed Bledsoe, said that he was out running some errands when the flames engulfed his house and he had only been out a little longer than 15 minutes, according to reports. He added that he had not realized that the fire was spreading rapidly into the neighborhood.
The family, reportedly, did not have enough time to escape from the blaze because of a gas line burst in the area.
Reports state that the grandfather had initially thought that his family had been rescued by the sheriff's department and was under the same impression until the bodies of his wife and his great-grandchildren were found the next day.