Wildfire destroys most of California town of Paradise; thousands of structures burned

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California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt John Gaddie told the Associated Press that some residents in Paradise had been trapped by the fire.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea called it a "very risky and serious situation", AP reports, and noted that some residents have been forced to abandon their vehicles to escape the conflagration.

Since starting at 6:30 a.m. PT just north of Sacramento, the fire is consuming 80 acres per minute - photos show that smoke is already reaching the Bay Area about 150 miles away. - More than 18,000 acres have been scorched in a matter of hours burning with it a hospital, a gas station and dozens of homes.

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. "We're doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas". The Camp Fire, burning in Butte County, has forced more than 20,000 Californians to evacuate and burned "multiple" structures, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Voluntary evacuations of 75,000 homes were called for because of the Woolsey Fire that included parts of Thousand Oaks in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, the site of a mass shooting incident this week in which 12 people were killed.

BFD spokesperson Keith May said BFD is sending one engine to assist the City of Oakland as its fire department responds to a fire on Highway 13, just south of Joaquin Miller Road.

Authorities were working to evacuate residents from their homes as strong winds swept seasonal wildfires across the state, consuming more than 26 miles of territory on Thursday alone. "We had to ride through flames to get here", he said from the side of a road west of Paradise.

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"Firefighters continue to be challenged with extreme fire and weather conditions including strong winds and with long range spotting".

Cal Fire, which has been calling the wildfire Camp Fire in its incident reports, said it originated at Pulga and Camp Creek roads in Butte County.

Clunies-Ross stayed behind to gather essentials not realizing how quickly danger was approaching, she says.

A small, "ominous" piece of burnt paper descended from the sky Thursday during a fast-moving wildfire in Northern California.

An elementary school in the region was also forced to evacuate students after the fire came within half a mile of the campus, according to CNN. "We tried to get all the nondigital things that we could - you know, stuff that couldn't be replaced", Peete said.

The fire, which began early on Thursday, was the fiercest of several wind-driven blazes across California, during what has been one of the worst years for wildfires in the state.

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