Tens of Thousands Flee Fast-Moving California Wildfire (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)

Camp Fire Smoke Smoke from the Camp Fire

A destructive and fast-moving wildfire erupted in northern California on Thursday morning, spreading rapidly due to a mix of howling winds and extremely dry conditions.

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.

The town of Paradise, California, population 27,000, has been evacuated, officials told local news reporters, as were the nearby communities of Pulga and Concow.

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. The Camp Fire in Northern California exploded in size Thursday, burning about 20,000 acres and overtaking the town of Paradise, where around 30,000 people were forced to evacuate at the last minute. "The message I want to get out is if you can evacuate, you need to evacuate", Honea said.

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.

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"Had he not put out that fire, I would not have made it to the vehicle", she said. Cal Fire has put out a call for more firefighters.

One Paradise resident who fled the encroaching blaze told the Bee: "It was so hot".

"We've just been posting all over social media. And just praying for a miracle, honestly", Ms Curtis said.

She and her husband "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to alert as numerous residents of 53 mobile homes and recreational vehicles as possible to leave, Bernacett said. Herrera, who lives in Paradise with her 88-year-old husband Lou Herrera, left a frantic voicemail at around 9:30 a.m. saying they needed to get out. "God help us!" she said before breaking down crying. Dramatic footage shows flames closing in around the highways out of town and thick smoke hanging in the sky, obscuring the horizon.

With Paradise located on a ridge and escape routes limited, traffic accidents turned roads into gridlock.

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"We're getting them on other vehicles with room".

The patients were taken to Oroville Hospital and Enloe Medical Center, the statement said.

Four of the hospital's employees were briefly trapped in the basement and rescued by California Highway Patrol officers, Kinney said. "There are dozens of strike teams that we're bringing in from all parts of the state".

The challenging fire conditions are expected to continue Friday in Southern California where wind alerts and red flag warnings have been issued and wind gusts could reach 70 miles per hour and relative humidity could be as low as 2 percent.

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