Fire crews in Redding for a time abandoned any hope of containing the flames and instead focused on saving lives.
County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said authorities found a sixth victim of the blaze at a home that was consumed by flames, though he declined to say where.
On Saturday afternoon, Redding police said they were trying to locate 17 people reported missing by relatives or friends since Thursday night.
Don Ray Smith, 81, of Pollock Pines was identified by the Shasta County Sheriff's Office as the man who died while operating a bulldozer.
The erratic flames are blamed for seven deaths, including 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe and her great-grandchildren, 4-year-old Emily Roberts and 5-year-old James Roberts. For the Fire Chief, conditions are risky: "Extreme is not even the right adjective to use any more it is just an understatement because fire is so explosive now in California".
"I tried to call them back and it just went to nothing", Bledsoe said as he wept.
Two others have died. Triple-digit temperatures and dry vegetation are making it hard for crews to corral the blaze.
Fed up, Tim Bollman, hiked 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) up steep terrain to check on the home he built for his wife and two sons 13 years ago.
Wildfires around the state have forced roughly 50,000 people from their homes, said Lynne Tolmachoff, a Cal Fire spokeswoman. Here's how you can help those impacted by the Carr Fire: GoFundMe has published a running list of verified campaigns supporting individual families whose homes were destroyed in the fire. That blaze killed 36-year-old Braden Varney, a heavy equipment operator for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection whose bulldozer rolled over into a ravine July 14.
A deadly Northern California wildfire that destroyed hundreds of homes in and around the city of Redding expanded into more rural areas Saturday where scorching heat, winds and bone-dry conditions complicated firefighting efforts.
"This fire was whipped up into a whirlwind of activity" by gale-force winds, he said, "uprooting trees, moving vehicles, moving parts of roadways". It has burned 150 acres (61 hectares).
As of Saturday night, ground crews backed by a squadron of 17 water-dropping helicopters had managed to carve buffer lines around just 5 percent of the fire's perimeter, leaving the blaze largely unchecked.
More than 5,012 structures were threatened by the fire, officials said.
The Carr Fire, which has destroyed more than 650 homes, is the deadliest and most destructive of almost 90 wildfires burning from Texas to Oregon.
"We have seen really extremely explosive fire behavior on this particular fire, but its not unique any more to what we are seeing on fires in California", Cal Fire's Anthony said.
Bledsoe said even though the family was not told to evacuate, he feels more guilty than angry. It then jumped the Sacramento River and took out subdivisions on the western edge of Redding.
A raging wildfire in northern California that has devoured entire neighborhoods killed two children and their great-grandmother, who had covered them with a wet blanket in a futile effort to save them, officials and family members said.
The latest tally showed at least 517 structures destroyed and another 135 damaged, Romero said. "We sent officers to some of these places (where they lived) and the houses were intact, so it's more than likely those people just evacuated".
Anna Noland, 49, was evacuated twice in three days before learning through video footage Saturday that the house she last saw under dark and windy skies had burned.
Donna Araiza, founder of the Alyssa Araiza "Wings of Angels" organization for seriously ill children, said Stoke regularly donated to her group, as well as the Make-A-Wish Foundation.