Broker says Northern California wildfire has made town 'smokier than hell'

Redding Re/Max franchise broker-owner comments on the devastation of the Carr Fire that's claimed six lives so far

The Carr Fire raging through Shasta and Trinity counties near Redding, California, has killed at least six individuals — including two firefighting personnel — and engulfed more than 966 buildings, according to the latest reports from CNN.

It’s a small town in the northern part of the state, with around 92,000 residents, and it’s never seen destruction on this level, according to an eyewitness on the ground.

“It’s smokier than hell,” Albert Naticchioni the broker-owner of Re/Max Redding told Inman. “Your eyes are burning.”

At press time, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) reports the Carr Fire, which started burning on July 23, has burned nearly 100,000 acres and sits at 20 percent containment. Naticchioni said there’s never been a fire this destructive, this close to Redding.

“I have a lot of police friends that have gotten in there and have told me the reports, and its pretty striking,” said Naticchioni, explaining that in some neighborhoods there’s four homes completely burned surrounding one home that didn’t.

“Until it shakes out in the next few days, we really won’t know the mass of it, what’s been demolished and what hasn’t been,” Naticchioni added. “It’s going to turn this town upside down in terms of where are they going to live and where are we going to place them, what we’re going to do. These are numbers that are unheard of in this town.”

Some of the residents displaced by last year’s violent wildfires in the Santa Rosa area moved to Redding, according to Naticchioni. He knows because he helped them find homes. Naticchioni admitted its too early to tell what things will look like once the fire is contained, but he said if it’s anything like what happened in Santa Rosa, there could be a migration from Redding.

“If we compare it to what happened in Santa Rosa, you’ll have a lot of people leave the area and just sell their lots and just move away,” Naticchioni said.

Wildfire insurance is also often costly and out of reach for many Californians.

Right now, there’s just a lot of people reaching out to him looking for rentals, of which there are none. The hotels are filled too, he said. Naticchioni himself has five families living with him right now.

As of 9 a.m. on Monday, some areas of Shasta and Trinity counties have started to repopulate as evacuation orders were lifted. According to the report from CNN, there’s still seven people missing.

Last month, a wildfire burned through parts of Lake County, California, and destroyed more than 10,000 acres of property and more than 20 buildings. A study from Redfin this year found that 7.7 percent of U.S. home value was at risk of destruction due to wildfires.

Email Patrick Kearns