Heroism, harrowing escapes as ‘Camp Fire’ destroys California town

Glen Norman
November 9, 2018

With late autumn winds fanning the flames of the California fires, causing some blazes to grow, these two dynamic maps are worth bookmarking, so you can stay up to date with the latest updates from affected areas in Northern California as well as Southern California.

In just 24 hours, the disastrous Camp Fire in Northern California has burned at the rate of nearly an acre per second and scorched an area more than twice the size of San Francisco.

Resident Shari Bernacett told the Associated Press that she "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to get mobile home residents to leave as fire consumed the hillside.

Twitter and Facebook users reported friends and loved ones living in Paradise who were unaccounted for. By Thursday evening, it had scorched up to 7,000 acres and sent residents of more than 1,200 homes fleeing, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"It's a very unsafe and very serious situation", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told the paper.

Driven by high winds and dry conditions, the blaze dubbed the Camp Fire swept through the town of Paradise. Currently, about 15,000 structures are being threatened by the wildfire, fire officials told AP.

The fast-moving wildfire began early Thursday morning in the town of Paradise, Calif., a population of 27,000, and has burned through 18,000 acres.

Cal Fire said strong winds were moving the fire quickly.

A California fire official says six major fires are burning around the state, and characterized three of them as "critical".

Scott McLean, a spokesman for Cal Fire, said the fire in Northern California's Butte County has "destroyed the town".

Fire officials issued evacuation notices for homes on the east side of Chico, a city of about 93,000 people situated about 90 miles (145 km) north of Sacramento.

At least one nursing home and hospital were evacuated and several homes were on fire, according to the Sacramento Bee, and the region is covered with thick, dark smoke.

The fire started in the early hours of the morning near Pulga, a small community surrounded by the Plumas National Forest, officials said.

The National Weather Service had predicted risky fire weather conditions in California because of Santa Ana winds, which roar in from the east and accelerate down California's north-to-south-oriented mountain slopes. All of the people were found dead in their cars, that were "overcome by the Camp Fire", the sheriff said.

The fire then pushed southward, jumped the wide US 101 freeway before dawn Friday and pushed into the Santa Monica range.

Numerous buildings have been destroyed in Paradise, Gaddie said.

The California Highway Patrol reversed traffic lanes along Interstates 99 and 149 throughout the day to allow evacuees to flee the 'Camp Fire'.

The fire is being driven west by 35 miles per hour (56 kmh) winds, fire officials said.

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