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California’s Massive and Deadly Carr Wildfire Was Sparked by a Flat Tire

All it takes is a single spark.

byKyle Cheromcha|
California’s Massive and Deadly Carr Wildfire Was Sparked by a Flat Tire


California is burning. There's little relief as this year's record-breaking fire season continues unabated, with soaring temperatures and new wildfires popping up almost daily. One of them is the Carr Fire, which has scorched nearly 270 square miles, destroyed over 1,000 homes, and killed eight people since it sprang to life over two weeks ago. And now authorities say they've figured out the source of ignition: a flat tire.

Cal Fire officials told CNN on Sunday that the Carr Fire, now sixth-most destructive wildfire in the state's history in terms of structures burned, started on July 23 when a the tire on a trailer blew out on a road near the city of Redding and the wheel's rim scraped along the pavement. A few sparks landed in some dry brush on the side of the road; days later, the isolated blaze exploded in size and burned into populated areas.

In scenes echoing the suburban devastation of the Tubbs Fire last year, the Carr Fire has incinerated entire subdivisions outside Redding. Pictures show cul-de-sacs reduced to ashy rubble, with only the blackened asphalt left to show the contours of the old neighborhood. The eight victims include a firefighter, a bulldozer operator, and a 70-year-old woman and her two great-grandchildren who were unable to evacuate in time. It's currently just 47 percent contained after firefighters were able to make some headway this week.

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The region's firefighting resources have been stretched thin by the ongoing disaster, as the Carr Fire is one of 17 different wildfires raging across California right now. Just a hundred miles to the south, the 454-square-mile Mendocino Complex Fire has become the largest in the state's history. Fortunately, no one has died in that blaze so far.