Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

'The community of Paradise is destroyed': Thousands displaced in California wildfire

'The community of Paradise is destroyed': Thousands displaced in California wildfire

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.

PARADISE, Calif. A wildfire that moved so fast firefighters didn't even try to stop it killed five people, authorities said today as the blaze quadrupled in size after leveling much of a Northern California town of almost 30,000 people.

Officials have recovered the remains of five people from vehicles that were "overcome by" the raging fire in Butte County, the sheriff's department there announced on Friday morning.

Residents have now been ordered to evacuate from several more towns to the west of Thousand Oaks, including Calabasas immediately south of Highway 101 and Malibu on the coast, as well as from the western edge of Los Angeles. Hospital patients were transferred to Oroville Hospital and Enloe Medical Center.

Winds are expected to die down Friday morning and firefighters said that should help for now, but they are expected to pick back up again on Sunday.

Fanned by high winds and fueled by low humidity and dry vegetation, the fires spread rapidly Thursday and overnight into Friday. "We tried to get all the nondigital things that we could - you know, stuff that couldn't be replaced", Peete said. A California fire official says he has reports of several hundred structures that have been destroyed, but officials say they won't have an exact count until they can get into the area.

The 20,000 acre (8,100 hectare) Camp Fire, which started on Thursday near Camp Creek, is being driven west by 35 miles per hour (56 kmh) winds, fire officials said.

Thick grey smoke and ash filled the sky above Paradise and could be seen from miles away.

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The town of Chico, population 93,000, could be next in the path of the wildfire, as flames were driven westward by 35-mile-per hour (56 km-per-hour) winds, said Butte County Fire Chief Darren Read.

The wildfire has spread from rural to populated areas, going from Pulga to Concow and down to Paradise, a town of 26,000 people about 85 miles north of Sacramento.

"F-ing Paradise is gone", she said.

Four hospital employees were briefly trapped in the basement and rescued by California Highway Patrol officers, Kinney said.

The Camp Fire was closing in. People posted photos on Twitter of missing seniors.

The fire then pushed southward, jumped the wide USA 101 freeway before dawn Friday and pushed into the Santa Monica range.

Vaughan could hear screams and explosions nearby as she and her husband got in their auto and drove away Thursday. Herrera, who lives in Paradise with her 88-year-old husband, Lou, left a frantic voicemail at around 9:30 a.m. saying they needed to get out.

Cal Fire said strong winds were moving the fire quickly.

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