California fire death toll includes woman and two great-grandchildren

The deadliest of eight wildfires burning out of control in California is still growing in size - and creating its own winds that move rapidly in unpredictable directions.

The fire, that started at Carr, has now killed six people, including a 70-year-old woman and her two great-grandchildren.

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told a news conference near the city of Redding at the edge of the blaze on Sunday one more person had been killed in a residence consumed by fire, bringing the total to six, including two firefighters. He said the latest victim had not complied with an evacuation order.

Sheriff Bosenko said authorities are still looking for seven people after finding nine others who had been reported missing.

More than 38,000 people remained under evacuation orders on Sunday in and around Redding, a city of 90,000 people about 257 kilometres north of the state capital Sacramento.

Redding Police Sergeant Todd Cogle confirmed three bodies discovered at a fire-ravaged home on the outskirts of Redding were two children and their great-grandmother.

The victims identified by relatives on Facebook and in news media reports were James Roberts, 5, his sister Emily, 4, and their great grandmother, Melody Bledsoe, 70.

Bledsoe's granddaughter, Amanda Woodley, said on Facebook the elderly woman desperately put a wet blanket over the children as their home burned.

"Grandma did everything she could to save them she was hovered over them both with a wet blanket," Ms Woodley said in a Facebook post.

The children's mother, Sherry Bledsoe, was quoted by the Sacramento Bee as saying: "My kids are deceased. That's all I can say."

The Carr Fire, which has destroyed more than 650 homes, is the deadliest and most destructive of nearly 90 wildfires burning from Texas to Oregon. The blazes have killed four firefighters in California in a little more than two weeks after officials reported on Sunday the death of a firefighter battling a wildfire by Yosemite National Park.

The Carr Fire alone has charred 38,594 hectares of drought-parched vegetation since erupting last Monday as the result of a vehicle mechanical failure, authorities said.

The blaze remained unpredictable, said Chris Anthony, a division chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

Officials battling the blaze told the news conference in Redding they were feeling more optimistic on Sunday afternoon and starting to gain ground on the Carr Fire.

An army of some 3,500 firefighters and a squadron of 17 water-dropping helicopters had carved buffer lines around 5 percent of the fire's 160 kilometre perimeter by Sunday.

President Donald Trump declared the fire an emergency on Saturday, authorising federal funds for disaster relief efforts.

Newshub/ Reuters.