REDDING, Calif. — 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.

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said 14 people had been reported missing after the furious wind-driven blaze took residents by surprise and leveled several neighborhoods, though he added that the homes of most of those unaccounted for were still standing.

Among the missing were two children and their great-grandmother who were stranded at a rural home when the fire blew up Thursday night, jumped the wide Sacramento River into Redding and leveled several neighborhoods.

Family members were desperately seeking any information on the whereabouts of Melody Bledsoe, 70, and her two great-grandchildren, James Roberts, 5, and Emily Roberts, 4, though they were prepared for a worst-case scenario after a family member visited what remained of the house where they were last seen.

“It looked like a war zone,” said Jason Decker, who viewed the smoldering remains.

The fire that was ignited Monday in forested hills grew overnight to 127 square miles. It pushed southwest of Redding, about 250 miles north of San Francisco and the largest city in the region with about 92,000 residents, toward tiny communities of Ono, Igo and Gas Point.

It’s now the largest of more than 20 fires burning in California. The winds that aided firefighters in keeping the flames from more populated areas were propelling it forward at a frightening rate.

“We’re not getting a break with the weather,” said Chris Anthony, a spokesman for Cal Fire, the state agency responsible for fighting wildfires. “It just continues to be really hot, really dry and we continue to get those winds. … This fire’s getting so big and there are so many different parts to it.”

Two firefighters were killed and the latest tally of 500 destroyed structures was sure to rise. A count by The Associated Press found more than 300 homes destroyed.

About 37,000 people are under evacuation orders, 5,000 homes are threatened and the fire was just 5 percent contained.

Meanwhile, about 120 miles southwest of Redding, two blazes prompted mandatory evacuations in Mendocino County. The two fires, burning 30 miles apart, started Friday and are threatening more than 350 buildings. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office ordered evacuations for people living in an area of Ukiah north of Highway 175. Residents in neighboring Benmore Valley were also told to leave Saturday.

Cal Fire officials said more than 10,000 firefighters were on the line, making progress on 14 large wildfires across California.

President Trump issued an emergency declaration for California on Saturday.

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