The Camp Fire scorched 5,000 acres in about three hours officials say
09 November, 2018, 17:54
"There is significant loss of structures, and civilian and firefighter injuries".
The flames swept through Paradise, which has about 26,000 residents, by about 8 a.m. Thursday and left a path of destruction in their wake.
Fire officials issued evacuation notices for homes on the east side of Chico, a city of about 93,000 people situated about 145 kilometres north of Sacramento.
With limited escape routes from the town, which is built on a ridge, traffic accidents turned roads into gridlock, with residents forced to abandon vehicles and run from the flames carrying children and pets, officials said.
"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation", said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late Thursday. "The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out".
Pacific Gas and Electric Company said about 14,000 residents of Butte and Plumas counties were without power due to fire activity and requests from firefighters to cut electricity in certain areas for safety, Sacramento Beereported. To make matters worse, as the flames approached, they sparked explosions and toppled utility poles.
"Things started exploding", said resident Gina Oviedo.
Butte County Sherriff Kory Honea told the Chico Enterprise-Record that "it's bad". "I'm driving through fire as we speak".
The California Highway Patrol shut down Highway 99, a major north-south thoroughfare, advising people to avoid the area.
The smoke of the rapidly growing blaze could be seen for miles.
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Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images via Getty Images Juanita McLish sits on a curb after she and her husband lost their home in the Campfire blaze raging through Paradise, Calif., on November 8. He "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to alert as many residents as possible, Bernacett said.
'My husband tried his best to get everybody out.
Santa Rosa police said the department and Napa County's fire dispatch center have been inundated with calls about the smoke.
TV personality Adrienne Janic said on Twitter that firefighters were using her home as a command centre.
Local media reports have shown images of traffic moving away from the plumes of smoke and orange glow of the wildfire.
One woman, Kim Curtis, said she was searching for her grandmother, a woman in her 70s who had said she was fleeing with her cat but had failed to turn up at an arranged meeting point and was not contactable.
Residents took to social media to share their views of the flames almost consuming the hillside in Newbury Park, which borders Thousands Oaks to the west. "And just praying for a miracle, honestly", Ms Curtis said.
Farther south in the Los Angeles region, the Woolsey and Hill Fires were whipped up Thursday evening by powerful winds that pushed them through canyons and to the edge of Camarillo Springs and Cal State Channel Islands, both of which were evacuated, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"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 we're bringing in from all parts of the state'. Emergency crews were working to help people evacuate there, he said.
The wildfire was reported around daybreak. By nightfall, it had consumed more than 28 square miles (73 square kilometers) and firefighters had no containment on the blaze, McLean said.
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