Par­adise lost...

Al­most en­tire town called Par­adise de­stroyed and up to 50 feared dead in Cal­i­for­nia’s worst wild­fires

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - From Caro­line Gra­ham

ELEVEN peo­ple have died and 300,000 were forced to flee their homes as the worst wild­fires in Cal­i­for­nian his­tory rage through the US state.

A record dry spell com­bined with winds gust­ing up to 100kph have sent flames tear­ing from celebrity beach ham­let Mal­ibu in the south to the town of Par­adise in the north. Three sep­a­rate fires have scorched more than 130,000 acres, lead­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to de­clare a state of emer­gency.

Par­adise, a pic­turesque town home to 27,000 175 miles north of San Fran­cisco, was al­most to­tally de­stroyed.

Nine peo­ple from the town died, in­clud­ing five who were burned alive in their cars as they at­tempted to flee down a wooded coun­try road that was en­gulfed by flames. Sher­iff Kory Honea said: ‘The peo­ple in the cars weren’t able to get out. The flames over­took them.’

An­other 35 peo­ple from the town are miss­ing feared dead and more than 6,700 homes and busi­nesses were in­cin­er­ated. Par­adise deputy mayor Greg Bolin said 90% of the town had been razed.

‘It’s just ash and rub­ble,’ he said. ‘It’s been wiped out.’

Last night of­fi­cials said only 5% of the fires had been brought un­der con­trol and warned the death toll would al­most cer­tainly rise.

In Mal­ibu, two peo­ple were re­ported dead last night. Stars in­clud­ing Lady Gaga, Cher, Martin Sheen, Ger­ard But­ler and Mel Gib­son were forced to leave their beach­side homes.

One Di­rec­tion singer Liam Payne, 25, re­vealed the man­sion he bought in Cal­abasas near Mal­ibu for $13m in 2015 is in the path of the fire.

He said last night: ‘I’m about to lose my house and its mem­o­ries. Even worse, trag­i­cally, peo­ple have died.’

IN­FERNO: A fire­fighter tack­les the flames near Par­adise. Cars were in­cin­er­ated and hospi­tals forced to evac­u­ate, right

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