Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, its that kind of devastation, said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late Thursday.
McLean estimated that a couple of thousand structures were destroyed in the town of 27,000 residents about 290 kilometres northeast of San Francisco, where residents scrambled to flee. The extent of the injuries and specific damage count was not immediately known as officials could not access the dangerous area.
Wind is still compromising efforts by firefighters: California fire official 00:57 Wind is still compromising efforts by firefighters: California fire official 01:22 2 significant fires started Thursday: California fire official 00:58 Over 2,000 fire fighters working to contain California wildfires READ MORE: California’s Mendocino Complex fire leaves a scar bigger than many cities
Aside from the winds, low relative humidity in the area was making firefighters jobs harder, and the area was under a red flag warning Thursday.
Paradise lost: California community destroyed by wildfire
Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read said at a news conference that two firefighters and multiple residents were injured.
As she fled, Gina Oviedo described a devastating scene in which flames engulfed homes, sparked explosions and toppled utility poles.
An Associated Press photographer saw dozens of businesses and homes leveled or in flames, including a liquor store and gas station.
Wildfires also erupted in Southern California, with reports early Friday of two large fires scorching about 23 square miles (60 square kilometers) and threatening numerous communities. ABC7.com reported that 75,000 homes were under evacuation orders along the border of Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
Video: Driving through Paradise, California as the Camp Fire rages on
Flames consume a car dealership as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.
“There was really no firefight involved,” said Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, explaining that crews gave up on attacking the flames and instead helped people evacuate. “These firefighters were in the rescue mode all day yesterday.”
Its a very dangerous and very serious situation, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. Im driving through fire as we speak. Were doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas.
Video: Camp Fire turns fatal in Paradise, California
The blaze erupted as windy weather swept the state, creating extreme fire danger. A wind-whipped fire north of Los Angeles in Ventura County burned up to 39 square kilometres and at least one home in a matter of hours. It threatened thousands of homes and prompted evacuations of a mobile home park, a state university campus and some neighborhoods. A nearby blaze was smaller at about 5 square kilometres but moving quickly.
Very dangerous Camp Fire prompts evacuations in Butte County, California
Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the fire-stricken area in Northern California and requested a presidential disaster declaration, saying that dangerous weather conditions were expected to last several days.
Shari Bernacett said her husband tried to get people to leave the Paradise mobile home park they manage. He knocked on doors, yelled and screamed to alert as many residents as possible, Bernacett said.
Associated Press writers Paul Elias, Janie Har, Daisy Nguyen, Olga R. Rodriguez, Sudhin Thanawala and Juliet Williams in San Francisco, Sophia Bollag in Sacramento, Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix and Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu contributed to this report.
Intense videos show the Camp Fire ravaging Northern California
My husband tried his best to get everybody out. The whole hills on fire. God help us! she said before breaking down crying. She and her husband grabbed their dog, jumped in their pickup truck and drove through flames before getting to safety, she said.
In the midst of the chaos, officials said they could not provide figures on the number of wounded, but County Cal Fire Chief Darren Read said at a news conference that at least two firefighters and multiple residents were injured.
Terrifying videos posted on social media showed cars driving along roads that looked like tunnels of fire with flames on both sides of the road.
Incredible video shows driver attempting to escape hellish California wildfire
Concerned friends and family posted frantic messages on Twitter and other sites saying they were looking for loved ones, particularly seniors who lived at retirement homes or alone.
Camp Fire Northern California: Video shows drivers dramatic escape
Among them was Kim Curtis, who was searching for her grandmother, who told family at 8 a.m. Thursday that she would flee her Paradise home in her Buick with her cat. Her grandmother, who is in her 70s and lives alone, never showed up up at a meeting spot in Chico, though.
Weve just been posting all over social media. And just praying for a miracle, honestly, said Curtis, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Every engine that we could put on the fire is on the fire right now, and more are coming, he said. There are dozens of strike teams that were bringing in from all parts of the state.
Tens of thousands of people were ordered to flee the fast-moving flames — dubbed the Camp Fire by officials — that exploded in size Thursday morning.
The sheriff confirmed reports that evacuees had to abandon their vehicles. Rescuers were trying to put them in other vehicles, he said.
Were working very hard to get people out. The message I want to get out is: If you can evacuate, you need to evacuate, Honea said.
The wildfire was reported around daybreak. Within six hours, it had grown to more than 69 square kilometers, Gaddie said.
Fire officials said the flames were being fueled by winds, low humidity, dry air and severely parched brush and ground from months without rain.
Basically, we havent had rain since last May or before that, said Read, the fire chief. Everything is a very receptive fuel bed. Its a rapid rate of spread.
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At the hospital in Paradise, more than 60 patients were evacuated to other facilities and some buildings caught fire and were damaged. But the main facility, Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, was not, spokeswoman Jill Kinney said.
Some of the patients were initially turned around during their evacuation because of gridlocked traffic and later airlifted to other hospitals, along with staff, Kinney said.
Four hospital employees were briefly trapped in the basement and rescued by California Highway Patrol officers, Kinney said.
The National Weather Service issued red-flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through Friday evening.
The director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services says the wildfires ripping through northern and southern California Friday have claimed lives.
Video: 27000 People Told To Evacuate California Town Of Paradise Due To Impending Wildfire | TIME
Paradise Lost: The Camp Fire Has Reportedly Burned an Entire Town to the Ground
"We know there have been injuries and we know there has been loss of life," Mark Ghilarducci said Friday during a news conference.
California: tens of thousands evacuated as wildfire explodes in size
Local and state officials provided updates on the massive that have devastated parts of the state since Thursday and forced 157,000 people from their homes.
Paradise, California, pretty much destroyed as raging Camp Fire prompts evacuations, state of emergency
In northern California, the fast-moving Camp Fire quadrupled in size overnight, to nearly 285 square kilometres, according to Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
On Friday, the blaze spread north, prompting officials to order the evacuation of Stirling City and Inskip, two communities along the Sierra Nevada foothills.
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The wind-driven blaze also spread to the west and reached the edge of Chico, a city of 90,000 people. Firefighters were able to stop the flames at the edge of the city, where evacuation orders remained in place Friday, said Cal Fire Cpt. Bill Murphy said.
The entire town was ordered evacuated, setting off a desperate exodus in which many motorists got struck in gridlocked traffic and abandoned their cars to flee foot. People in Paradise reported seeing much of the community go up in flames, including homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement centre.
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"The town is devastated, everything is destroyed. There's nothing much left standing," McLean said.
Reporter Laura Anthony, of the local ABC station KGO, shot video of a "firenado" in Paradise Thursday.
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"We were surrounded by fire, we were driving through fire on each side of the road," said police officer Mark Bass, who lives in Paradise and works in Chico.
In Northern California, the Camp Fire advanced rapidly to the outskirts of the city of Chico early on Friday, forcing thousands to flee after it left the nearby town of Paradise in ruins, California fire officials said.
He evacuated his family and then returned to the fire to help rescue several disabled residents, including a man trying to carry his bedridden wife to safety. "It was just a wall of fire on each side of us, and we could hardly see the road in front of us."
Many abandoned their cars on the side of the road, fleeing on foot. Cars and trucks, some with trailers attached, were left on the roadside as evacuees ran for their lives, said Bass, the police officer. "They were abandoned because traffic was so bad, backed up for hours."
Paradise fire: Hundreds trapped across California as blaze swells to 5,000 acres
Rescuers used a bulldozer to push abandoned cars out the way to reach Feather River Hospital and evacuate patients as flames engulfed the building, Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter told reporters.
McLean said an as yet unspecified number of civilians and firefighters had been injured, and that it could be days before authorities would know whether anyone had died.
Whole town is burning: Residents flee Northern California wildfire
On social media, many posted information about missing loved ones. They had help from actor James Woods, who stayed up all night reposting the pleas as well as news of family members found safe and reunited under the hashtag #CampFireJamesWoods.
As the sun rose in California, people from all over the state posted photos of dark skies full of smoke and ash, and the state issued air quality warnings for some areas.
Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Ventura and Los Angeles counties Friday. He had already done so in Butte County, in the north, on Thursday.
California Wildfire Quadruples in Size, and PG&E Falls
Meanwhile, portions of Southern California remained under siege early Friday as two large fires threatened many Ventura County communities. The National Weather Service issued red-flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through the evening.
The Woolsey Fire, which began overnight, covered more than 3,000 hectares Friday morning and was threatening 75,000 homes, the Ventura County Fire Department said on Twitter, adding there had been no reports of fatalities or severe injuries as yet.
Actor Rainn Wilson said that resident of Thousand Oaks, still reeling from a Wednesday night shooting in which a gunman killed 12 people at a bar before killing himself, were now having to flee their homes.
The two fires burning just northwest of Los Angeles were zero per cent contained, and mandatory evacuations were in place for L.A. County and Ventura County. As the fires advanced south toward L.A., officials also ordered the evacuation of the California beachside community of Malibu, a well-to-do community of about 13,000.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeted that the fire was headed to the ocean, punctuating the message with the declaration: "Imminent threat!"
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