Residents flee as Camp Fire tears through California towns

Saul Bowman
November 9, 2018

In just 24 hours, the disastrous Camp Fire in Northern California has burned at the rate of nearly an acre per second and scorched an area more than twice the size of San Francisco.

Barker said he was briefly trapped by fire while trying to get people out, with flames across the road in front of him and behind him.

Twitter and Facebook users reported friends and loved ones living in Paradise who were unaccounted for.

Evacuation centers have been set up at the Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley, Church of the Nazarene in Oroville and the Neighborhood Church in Chico (reported full as of Cal Fire's 8 p.m. Thursday incident update).

All of Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, was ordered to evacuate, said Butte County Sheriff's spokeswoman Miranda Bowersox. Those fires were eventually contained, but a new inferno which sparked up in Plumas National Forest this week has devastated tens of thousands of acres already, and it's turned the town of Paradise, California, into a hellscape.

Both fires are moving fast, fanned by strong winds.

The Chico Fire Department said: "Firefighters continue to actively engage the fire in order to protect life and property".

"There was really no firefight involved", said Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, explaining that crews gave up attacking the flames and instead helped people get out alive. Smoke from the flames has spread throughout Northern California.

Thousands of people have evacuated their homes as Camp Fire roars on.

Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Dave Richardson says 45,000 people in Ventura County and 43,000 more in Los Angeles County were ordered to evacuate overnight.

By Friday morning, a day after the fire broke out at Pulga Road at Camp Creek Road, firefighters said about 80 percent of the town, population 26,000 was lost.

Flames consumed a Kentucky Fried Chicken as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., Thursday. A member of the town, Brynn Parrott Chatfield, shared a video of the fire while driving in a auto on Facebook.

"This fire is very unsafe, please evacuate if asked to do so!"

Richardson estimates another 60,000 people will likely have to evacuate because the fire jumped USA 101 early Friday and is pushing toward the coast.

A second fire has been burning in the Santa Rosa Valley east of Camarillo, west of Simi Valley near Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks.

Massive wildfires are tearing through parts of California, destroying hundreds buildings and forcing thousands of people from their homes.

Fire officials anticipate the fire would reach the Pacific Ocean.

The region has grappled with serious wildfires - including the worst in the state's history, the Mendocino and Thomas fires - on and off since 2017.

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