Tens of thousands flee fast-moving Northern California fire


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.

State officials described catastrophic losses, and said rescue efforts were ongoing.

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.

A vintage vehicle rests among debris as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif., on November 8, 2018.

Laura Anthony witnessed the fire whirl, a whirlwind caused by fire and consisting of flame or ash, on the outskirts of Paradise on Thursday.

He estimated the Camp Fire burned a couple of thousand structures to the ground.

In northern California, the Camp Fire had more than tripled in size to 70,000 acres (2838 hectares) and was 5% contained, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) officials said.

It also shows thermal hotspots detected by satellites.

Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said a "very significant, unsafe weather pattern" would continue through the end of the weekend.

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"Right now, Mother Nature is in charge", Cal Fire spokesman Bryce Bennett told The Sacramento Bee.

"It was just a wall of fire on each side of us, and we could hardly see the road in front of us", Bass said. Paradise is popular with retirees, and has a population of about 27,000. People reported seeing much of the community go up in flames, including homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement centre.

"We heard this was coming so we set up on the sprinklers and we hosed the whole house down", said Patrick Henry, a Malibu resident. Thousands evacuated, many abandoned their vehicles and fleeing on foot as flames surrounded major roadways in the area. Some were forced back by clogged roads, but all of them eventually made it out, some in dramatic fashion.

"This was a rapidly moving fire", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told the Chico Enterprise-Record.

Maclean said an as yet unspecified number of civilians and firefighters had been injured, and that it could be days before authorities would know whether anyone had died.

Acting California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in both of counties due to the Woolsey Fire and a second wildfire also burning in the area.

Meanwhile, an as-yet-unnamed fire in Griffith Park started Friday morning; it has already burned 30 acres and is forcing the evacuation of animals at the zoo.

California is experiencing one of its worst fire years ever, with 621,743 acres (251,610 hectares) burned through Sunday in areas covered by Cal Fire, almost twice the amount during the same period of 2017 and almost triple the five-year average. He has late-stage cancer and she is mostly confined to her bed, she said.