9 die as wild­fires rav­age Cal­i­for­nia

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - MYINDIAMYVOTE - AFP

PAR­ADISE: Nine peo­ple died and over 150,000 were evac­u­ated on Fri­day as fierce wild­fires raged across Cal­i­for­nia, with one blaze threat­en­ing the re­sort of Mal­ibu.

All of the fa­tal­i­ties were re­ported in a mas­sive in­ferno in the town of Par­adise, where the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of 26,000 was or­dered to evac­u­ate, of­fi­cials said.

The fast mov­ing blaze, known as the Camp Fire, be­gan on Thurs­day morn­ing. Fanned by strong winds, it has scorched 70,000 acres and has not been con­tained, the Cal­i­for­nia Fire Depart­ment said.

Two other fires broke out in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, one in Ven­tura County near Thou­sand Oaks.

Res­i­dents who es­caped Par­adise shared videos as they drove through tun­nels of swirling smoke and orange flames to out­run the wild­fire.

More than 2,200 fire­fight­ers were bat­tling the blaze, backed up by he­li­copters and wa­ter tankers.

Mean­while, in an­other episode, teach­ers, aides and bus driv­ers in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia hur­riedly loaded more than 100 school stu­dents into sev­eral cars and school buses as a fast-mov­ing wild­fire ap­proached them, driv­ing hours through smoke and flames to safely re­unite all the chil­dren with their fam­i­lies, ac­cord­ing to one of the teach­ers who helped get the peo­ple to safety.

Marc Kessler, a sci­ence teacher at a Par­adise Uni­fied School District mid­dle school, said he ar­rived at work early Thurs­day and saw smoke plumes that soon grew un­com­fort­ably near.

He and oth­ers quickly re­al­ized they would have to leave as the sound of propane tanks ex­plod­ing in the heat got closer.

A sher­iff’s deputy ar­rived and told them to get to Chico, a nearby city.

AFP

Houses con­tinue to burn un­der a dark­ened sky in Par­adise, Cal­i­for­nia.

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