NorCal town lev­eled in less than a day

The Philippine Star - - WORLD -

PAR­ADISE (AP) — Not a sin­gle res­i­dent of Par­adise can be seen any­where in the town af­ter most of them fled the burn­ing North­ern Cal­i­for­nia com­mu­nity that may be lost for­ever. Aban­doned, charred ve­hi­cles clut­tered the main thor­ough­fare, ev­i­dence of the pan­icked evac­u­a­tion a day ear­lier.

Most of its build­ings are in ruin. En­tire neigh­bor­hoods are lev­eled. The busi­ness district is de­stroyed. In a sin­gle day, this Sierra Nevada foothill town of 27,000 founded in the 1800s was largely in­cin­er­ated by flames that moved so fast there was noth­ing fire­fight­ers could do.

Only a day af­ter it be­gan, the blaze that started out­side the hilly town of Par­adise had grown on Fri­day to nearly 140 square miles and de­stroyed more than 6,700 struc­tures, al­most all of them homes, mak­ing it Cal­i­for­nia’s most de­struc­tive wild­fire since record-keep­ing be­gan.

Nine peo­ple have been found dead, some in­side their cars and oth­ers out­side ve­hi­cles or homes af­ter a des­per­ate evac­u­a­tion that Butte County Sher­iff Kory Honea called “the worst-case sce­nario.” Their iden­ti­ties were not yet known.

“It is what we feared for a long time,” Honea said, not­ing there was no time to knock on res­i­dents’ doors one by one.

With fires also burn­ing in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, state of­fi­cials put the to­tal num­ber of peo­ple forced from their homes at more than 200,000.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is­sued an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion pro­vid­ing fed­eral funds for Butte, Ven­tura and Los An­ge­les coun­ties.

The fire in Par­adise, about 180 miles north­east of San Fran­cisco, was still burn­ing out of con­trol on Fri­day.

A thick, yel­low haze hung in the air, giv­ing the ap­pear­ance of twi­light in the mid­dle of the day. Some of the “ma­jes­tic oaks” the town boasts of on its web­site still have fires burn­ing in their trunks. Thick wooden posts hold­ing up guardrails con­tin­ued to burn.

Sonoma Val­ley fire­fight­ers in­spect burned cars to make sure they are clear of hu­man re­mains fol­low­ing a wild­fire in Par­adise, Cal­i­for­nia on Fri­day.

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