Editor's note: Sherry Bledsoe confirmed to the Associated Press Saturday that her two children (James Roberts, 5, and Emily Roberts, 4) and her grandmother (Melody Bledsoe, 70) died in the fire.
On a lawn outside a gas station surrounded by yellow caution tape, Ed Bledsoe lies on the grass and sobs. He can’t find his wife, Melody, or their two great-grandchildren.
“She called and she said, ‘You need to come home right now. The fire’s right next to our house,’” he said. “And I said, ‘I’m comin’ and I throwed my stuff down and I took off and I burned rubber and got all the way up there, and then they wouldn’t let me go in there to get em.”
His son tried too, but couldn’t see through the smoke.
Bledsoe is now one of many anxious residents in Redding awaiting word about their homes — and in at least one case, loved ones.
The fire exploded on Thursday night as it entered Redding’s city limits, destroying dozens of homes and structures. At least one firefighter died battling the blaze, and the town remains on edge.
A post this morning on Facebook seemed to bring good news for Bledsoe: A relative told him that his wife was at one of the local shelters.
“I’m hoping and I’m praying to God,” he said.
But it wasn’t true.
Two hours later, he stood in a stained shirt and cowboy hat at the door to the Shasta College shelter. Nearly 600 other people also found themselves at the facility, in tents on the football field, cots in the gym, and hospital beds. But no Melody and no kids.
Bledsoe scrawled a message to his wife on a Post-It note and put it on the shelter’s message board. But he says in his heart, he knows the truth.