Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Thousands flee raging wildfires in California

Thousands flee raging wildfires in California

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation", said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean as quoted by The Associated Press. During the height of the blaze, firefighters completely surrendered firefighting duties in order to focus on rescuing people.

The town's 27,000 residents were told to evacuate.

A former U.S. Marine combat veteran opened fire in a bar packed with college students in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday, killing 12 people in an incident that stunned a bucolic community with a reputation for safety. "We had to drive through flames to make it out safely", Hall told CNN via Instagram.

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.

Elsewhere, fire officials say evacuations due to a raging Southern California wildfire are expected to reach about 148,000 and structural losses are expected to be significant.

Almost 30,000 people were forced to evacuate on Thursday when a wildfire roared through this California town, located about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Officials evacuated some 30,000 people in the region, including in Magalia, Concow, Butte Creek Canyon and Butte Valley.

"It started at 6:30 in the morning, and before you knew it, it had already gone through town", Bass said. "We're very grateful for our partnerships with allied agencies, Cal Fire, our agency, the town staff worked as quickly as possible to evacuate, using our evacuation plans".

Wind in the valley calmed down, but they were still shifting and erratic along the ridgetops, with speeds of up to 45 miles per hour (72 kph), he said. One of them was on fire, and some cars were driving through it, but she didn't want to chance it with the children in the auto, he said.

Malibu, known as the home of many Hollywood stars, has about 13,000 residents and lies along 34 kilometres of coast at the southern foot of the mountain range.

"Imminent threat!" the department said in its warning.

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

Raging fires can be seen burning through the terrain on both sides of the road during Chatfield's distressing drive, and a passenger in the vehicle can be heard saying a prayer for safety.

The flames have been driven by strong winds and dry conditions. The fire destroyed about 1,000 structures in Paradise, including a church and some buildings at a local hospital, according to Cal Fire and interviews with residents.

The fire began around 6:33 a.m. on November 8 and swept through the area at a speed of about one football field every three seconds, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). It had injured an undisclosed number of civilians, and two firefighters, officials said at a news conference on Thursday.

The fast-moving Camp Fire advanced to the outskirts of the northern California city of Chico early on Friday after it left the nearby town of Paradise in ruins. People in some neighborhoods have been told to get out.

"Everything was ignited by the time I got out of my house, everything was on fire", another person said.

"This fire spread in a manner of a couple hours", he said. "People started getting out of their vehicles and running". The university said it planned to close Friday "out of an abundance of caution".

A structure is seen engulfed in flames during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 8, 2018.

"It's a worst-case scenario", Bass said.

Dramatic footage captured the moment a "firenado" filled the sky near a California town.

"There's nothing much left standing", he said. Others took to Twitter to post messages about missing family members.

Chico police officer John Barker and his partner evacuated several elderly people from an apartment complex.

Kelly Lee called shelters looking for her husband's 93-year-old grandmother, Dorothy Herrera, who was last heard from Thursday morning.

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