Thousands evacuate as wildfires grow in California

Marsha Scott
November 10, 2018

"Things started exploding", Oviedo said. The Chico Elks Lodge is opening up as a shelter as well around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night.

The stranger ended up helping Miller pack up her mother and taking them to safety in Chico, which took three hours to travel the 14 miles from Paradise to Chico.

Reporter Laura Anthony, of the local ABC station KGO, shot video of a "firenado" in Paradise Thursday.

A police officer who helped residents escape a wildfire bearing down on a Northern California town says the town has been devastated.

"There was really no firefight involved", said Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, explaining that crews gave up attacking the flames and instead helped people get out alive.

"We're working very hard to get people out.The message I want to get out is: If you can evacuate, you need to evacuate", Honea said. Firefighters were able to stop the flames at the edge of the city, where evacuation orders remained in place Friday, said Cal Fire Cpt.

The fire in Paradise burned fast, reports CBS News' David Begnaud.

Another police officer in Chico, John Barker, said many elderly people live in Paradise and some are immobile. Witnesses reported seeing homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement home up in flames. Traffic accidents turned roads into gridlock and residents abandoned vehicles and ran from the flames, carrying children and pets, officials said. He "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to alert as many residents as possible, Bernacett said. "People were abandoning their cars and running with their babies and kids".

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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.

"Firefighters continue to actively engage the fire in order to protect life and property", the Chico Fire Department said in a Tweet. "A lot of roads were congested with traffic that just could not move, so we moved those into church parking lots and store parking lots where we could get them all together and have our resources there to protect them".

Mr 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.

California is now being devastated by three separate wildfire blazing through the state, due to high winds and low humidity.

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.

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

The so-called Camp Fire, which started on Thursday, has torched dozens of homes and put some 15,000 structures under threat as a state of emergency was declared in Butte County. That county is also facing danger from a second fire, the Hill Fire, which sparked Thursday very near the location of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks where 12 were killed.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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