Northern California wildfire leaves town in ruins, thousands flee

Thousands evacuated over fast-moving California wildfire

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation", said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late Thursday.

Officials were sending as many firefighters as they could, Cal Fire spokesperson Rick Carhart said.

The blaze by Thursday morning had already charred 18,000 acres, forcing the evacuation of the 27,000 residents of Paradise, about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, and other communities, Cal Fire said in a statement.

The fire exploded in size after it was spotted on Thursday morning and continues to grow. A member of the town, Brynn Parrott Chatfield, shared a video of the fire while driving in a vehicle on Facebook. "I don't know. It's hard". Many homes have propane tanks that were exploding amid the flames.

May said that BFD has sent a strike team of 5 engines led by a battalion chief to support firefighters in Butte County.

The Chico Enterprise-Record reports that a retirement home and Ponderosa Elementary School were also evacuated. "It's really dry and we have low humidity, and unfortunately those are great conditions for a fire to spread".

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"This does not look good at all", Mason said on Twitter.

The massive plume from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., wafts over the Sacramento Valley as seen from Chico, Calif., on Thursday.

Fire officials said they expected it to burn all the way to the ocean.

Cinders crawled along the ground and up trees as she fled with her mother and grandmother. Flames were inches away, smoke was thick, cars weren't moving and people were panicking. En route to her sister's house in Chico, she told CNN she didn't have high hopes that her home survived. "It can't be there anymore".

The dead were found in the same part of Paradise, the Butte County Sheriff's Office said.

Officials were sending as many crews as they could gather, Carhart said.

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The entire town had been evacuated earlier, with traffic backing up throughout the area as residents try to get to safety. "The message I want to get out is if you can evacuate, you need to evacuate", Honea said.

Gaddie said he was aware of four or five injuries, but no deaths. As many as 1,000 structures were reportedly burned in town.

He says the fire's pace forced firefighters to focus on life-protection rather than saving structures and he expects that yet-to-be-determined number to be significant.

This second fire has scored some 10,000 acres of land, the state agency said.

Blome drove through the town with a man named Fred, crying, pointing out Sam's Liquor, Safeway, McDonald's, the church, the tire shop, the vehicle wash, apartments, her doctor's office, the bowling alley, a hotel, the veterinarian - all of which had gone up in flames.

Three fires across northern and southern California have scorched thousands of acres fanned by strong Santa Ana winds.

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