SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Three months after the Carr Fire ripped through Shasta County, we’re hearing some of the 911 calls from that day. The flames killed eight people, destroyed more than 1,000 homes and burned more than 229,000 acres.
Audio of the calls to 911 dispatch, posted on the Record Searchlight website, provide a glimpse of the fear running through the area in late July.
The Carr Fire takes the spot for the 6th most destructive fire in California history in terms of structures lost.
- Tubbs Fire (Oct. 2017) – 5,636 structures
- Tunnel Fire – Oakland Hills (Oct. 1991) – 2,900 structures
- Cedar Fire (Oct. 2003) – 2,820 structures
- Valley Fire (Sept. 2015) – 1,955 structures
- Witch Fire (Oct. 2007) -1,650 structures
- Carr Fire (July. 2018) – 1,604 structures
“911, your emergency?” one dispatcher said.
“I’m in a dozer,” the caller said. “All the windows got blown out, I got my curtains down.”
The chilling call came in on July 26.
“I can’t last too long here,” the caller said.
“Okay, if you can get out safely, get out, okay?” the female dispatcher said.
“I can’t,” said the caller. “No, I have to have a ride out of here because it’s all on fire around me.”
A man was trapped inside of a dozer with the Carr Fire raging on all sides.
“Just stay on the line, okay?” the dispatcher said. “What was your first name, sir?
“Don,” the caller said.
“Don, okay,” the dispatcher responded.
She and Don went back and forth, trying to pinpoint his location. She assured him help was on the way, but Don warned of the danger surrounding him.
“There’s two dozers behind me and there’s a Cal Fire pickup just exploded right front of me, I think the guy didn’t get out,” he said. “Don’t risk anybody’s life for mine but as soon as it lays down, send somebody for me please.”
“Of course I will,” the dispatcher said. “Can you just stay on the line for me, okay?”
“Okay,” Don said.
It’s unclear what happened to Don but this wasn’t the only call SHASCOM dispatchers received that summer afternoon.
“Hi, okay I’m going to try to stay calm,” one caller said, frantically trying to get to an 11-month-old baby. “They will not let me in to get them and they have no way out.”
“I can’t get to them, that’s what I’m saying,” another caller said. “I’m a mile down the road!
Dispatchers tried to calmly instruct terrified callers on where to go during the firestorm.
“If it told you to evacuate, you should go,” one dispatcher said.
Flames were fueled by scorching temperatures that jumped over the Sacramento River at one point. Tornadoes within the fire caused an unclear direction, leaving residents scrambling to escape.
“Don, I’m going to go ahead and let you go and I’m gonna have gonna have you call your wife and I’m gonna get someone out there as soon as possible okay? Alright, bye bye,” a dispatcher said.
The Carr fire burned for more than two months and officials say it sparked after a trailer with a flat tire ignited nearby brush.