Tens of thousands flee fast-moving Northern California fire

10 November, 2018, 11:03 | Author: Rachel Logan
  • Berkeley Fire Department responding to fires in Oakland, Butte County

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

The blaze started on Thursday near Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles (64km) north-west of central Los Angeles, prompting the evacuation of 75,000 homes.

Butte County Sheriff officials in Northern California claim that five people were found dead in their vehicles in the town of Paradise.

Thousands of buildings were destroyed in Paradise, California, 145 kilometres north of Sacramento, and officials feared the death toll could rise once crews put out the flames and inspect destroyed properties.

A raging wildfire in southern California has swept into the beach resort of Malibu - home to many Hollywood stars - leaving buildings burning and sending residents fleeing.

"The fire burned from one house, to the next house, to the next house until they were pretty much all gone", Knuthson said.

"I was frantic", she said.

Among the towns under evacuation orders is Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people in a rampage on Wednesday.

State fire officials on Twitter announced that firefighters from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, Draper, Provo, Bluffdale, Cedar City and Hurricane, Washington County, are also en route to assist with the fire. In a single day, this Sierra Nevada foothill town founded in the 1800s was largely incinerated by flames that moved so fast there was nothing firefighters could do.

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"There are many hazards in areas where fatalities have been reported", the Butte County Sheriff's Department said in a statement, warning that they expect to find additional victims.

A Cal Fire helicopter picks up water from a reservoir while battling the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 8, 2018.

California Acting Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday declared a state of emergency for areas affected by the Woolsey and Hill fires in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Today, it mushroomed to 70,000 acres and apparently is still growing as fire officials report 0 percent containment. "Just landed back home and had one hour to pack up and evacuate our home".

The town of Chico, population 93,000, could be next in the path of the wildfire, which was forecast to be driven westward overnight by 35-mile-per hour (56 km-per-hour) winds, said Butte County Fire Chief Darren Read. Then she reconsidered, thinking: "I'm really scared. My home is in jeopardy but. everything with a heartbeat is safe", she said. Some people abandoned their cars and ran for their lives.

On social media, many have been sharing images of highways and roads flanked by fire or covered in heavy smoke and asking for help to evacuate friends and family.

The wind-driven blaze also spread to the west and reached the edge of Chico, a city of 90,000 people.

The fires in California right now are behaving the same way the destructive fires did over the summer, she said.

The entire town was ordered evacuated, setting off a desperate exodus in which many motorists got struck in gridlocked traffic and abandoned their vehicles to flee foot.

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