'Whole town is burning': Residents flee Northern California wildfire

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 9, 2018

Evacuations were underway as firefighters battled a massive blaze, dubbed the Camp Fire, that was threatening the town of Paradise in Butte County Thursday, officials said.

The fire is centered in the Feather River Canyon off Highway 70 about five miles east of the town of Paradise which has a population of near 26,000 people. The Butte County Sheriff's Office has issued mandatory evacuation orders for most residents of Paradise and the smaller communities of Concow and Pulga.

With limited escape routes from the town, which is built on a ridge, traffic accidents turned roads into gridlock, with residents forced to abandon vehicles and run from the flames carrying children and pets, officials said.

Cal Fire is continuing to update which public agencies and media outlets are tallying road closures and evacuation orders.

"They need time to prepare", she said.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea says a fire in Northern California is a "very unsafe and serious situation". She said she did not know the exact number of people evacuated.

California is experiencing one of its worst fire years ever, with 621,743 acres (251,610 hectares) burned through Sunday in areas covered by Cal Fire, almost twice the amount during the same period of 2017 and almost triple the five-year average.

He "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to alert as many residents as possible, Bernacett said.

Freeman says her friend described being surrounded by explosions in the parking lot and soon being unable to see the fire because of all the smoke. She and her husband grabbed their dog, jumped in their pickup truck and drove through flames before getting to safety, she said. The fire has already consumed more than 8,000 acres.

Greer said heavy ash was falling in Chico.

Greer works for a phone answering service that is handling numerous phone calls for the Feather River Hospital, which has been ordered to evacuate and is not responding to calls. State fire authorities said they could not confirm the reports.

"It's got all the right conditions to have grown very large, very quickly", said Cal Fire spokesman Rick Carhart.

CAL FIRE said Wednesday that a Red Flag Warning was issued for most of Northern California's interior as well as parts of Southern California through Friday morning.

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