Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

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

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

Authorities in Northern California have ordered mandatory evacuations in a rural area where the wildfire has grown to 1,000 acres (405 hectares) amid hot and windy weather.

Officials also issued an evacuation for part of Highway 70 nearby the fire and identified evacuation shelters to which people could flee.

The Camp Fire, in Butte County, north of the state's capital, Sacramento, had burned through some 18,000 acres as of Thursday evening and was zero percent contained as officials scrambled to evacuate area residents.

On Thursday afternoon, California fire officials said the fire had expanded to about 18,000 acres, but its true size is hard to pinpoint because of heavy smoke, which can be seen from miles away.

Evacuation notices were set for homes on the east side of Chico, a city of about 93,000 people situated about 90 miles (145 km) north of Sacramento.

The Chico Fire Department said: "Firefighters continue to actively engage the fire in order to protect life and property".

A combination of profoundly dry vegetation and heavy winds are contributing to the fire's explosive pattern. State fire authorities said they could not confirm the reports.

Dramatic footage shows flames closing in around the highways out of town and thick smoke hanging in the sky, obscuring the horizon.

The Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on November 8, 2018.

Numerous buildings have been destroyed in Paradise and an unspecified number of people injured, Gaddie said.

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

Honea says resources are spread thin, but officials are "doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas".

Two separate calls to emergency responders reported a woman in labor for a "high-risk" pregnancy was in a vehicle on the side of Clark Road, the newspaper reported.

Four of the hospital's employees were briefly trapped in the basement and rescued by California Highway Patrol officers, Kinney said.

The Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

The hospital was totally destroyed, Mike Mangas, a spokesman for operator Dignity Health, told Action News Now.

The fire was the fiercest of several wind-driven blazes across California yesterday, during one of the state's worst years for wildfires. Winds are expected to ease Friday morning but a second round of gusty winds is forecast to develop Saturday night into Sunday, CNN Meteorologist Haley Brink said.

Ventura County Fire Department clarified on Twitter that Los Robles Hospital was not being evacuated. Wind gusts of 50 miles per hour were expected in many locations.

"We're talking devastated", McLean said.

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