5 dead, 157,000 flee homes as wild­fires race across Cal­i­for­nia

Rock­lin po­lice: ‘A whole town was wiped out in 24 hours’

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Front Page - Doug Stan­glin and Chris Woodyard

MAL­IBU, Calif. – Rag­ing wild­fires across Cal­i­for­nia have killed at least five peo­ple and driven 157,000 peo­ple from their homes, fire of­fi­cials said Fri­day. Near Los An­ge­les, the af­flu­ent beach­side town of Mal­ibu was or­dered evac­u­ated as a wind-driven blaze jumped the U.S. 101 Free­way and raced to­ward the sea.

In north­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s Butte County, the sher­iff ’s of­fice said in­ves­ti­ga­tors found five peo­ple dead in ve­hi­cles that were torched by the flames of a fe­ro­cious wild­fire that roared through the town of Par­adise.

The vic­tims were found in the same area of the dev­as­tated re­tire­ment com­mu­nity that also lost some 2,000 struc­tures.

“A whole town was wiped out in 24 hours,” said Rock­lin po­lice Of­fi­cer Jon Gee. “It’s crazy.”

Mark Ghi­lar­ducci, di­rec­tor of the Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice of Emer­gency Ser­vices, said 157,000 peo­ple had been forced from their homes in three ma­jor fires in the Golden State, in­clud­ing the Camp Fire that de­stroyed Par­adise.

The blaze, which erupted 80 miles north of Sacra­mento, quadru­pled overnight to nearly 110 square miles, ac­cord­ing to fire of­fi­cials.

Maj. Gen. David Bald­win of the Cal­i­for­nia Na­tional Guard said 100 mil­i­tary po­lice were en route to North­ern Cal­i­for­nia to help evac­u­ate peo­ple from the Par­adise area.

In south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, some 75,000 homes were or­dered evac­u­ated in Ven­tura and Los An­ge­les coun­ties.

Ven­tura County Fire De­part­ment Capt. Scott Det­torre warned that as the fire crossed the fa­mous High­way 101, a ma­jor trans­porta­tion artery, “it will make its his­toric and typ­i­cal run all the way down Pa­cific Coast High­way, threat­en­ing more homes, more prop­erty, more lives,” KTLA-TV re­ported.

Fire of­fi­cials or­dered the evac­u­a­tion of all 13,000 res­i­dents of the com­mu­nity, which stretches 21 miles along the coast­line.

“Fire is burn­ing out of con­trol, head­ing into pop­u­lated ar­eas of Mal­ibu,” the city of Mal­ibu tweeted. “All res­i­dents evac­u­ate now.”

The Woolsey Fire had ex­ploded to more than 5 square miles Fri­day morn­ing and was con­tin­u­ing to grow.

Home­own­ers flee­ing the wind­driven blaze around Mal­ibu jammed road­ways as the fire crept closer to the wealthy, surf­side com­mu­nity, which is home to nu­mer­ous movie and TV stars. The celebrity site The Blast said homes be­long­ing to Mel Gib­son, Cait­lyn Jen­ner, Lady Gaga, Courteney Cox, Ju­lia Roberts and Patrick Dempsey were lo­cated in the evac­u­a­tion zone.

As cars snarled Pa­cific Coast High­way, some res­i­dents lined up five deep at a gas sta­tion for a last chance to get fuel. All were be­ing di­rected south to­ward the safety of Santa Mon­ica. Pep­per­dine Univer­sity shut down its Mal­ibu and Cal­abasas cam­puses and ini­ti­ated shel­ter-in-place pro­to­cols.

Fire­fighter Jose Corona sprays wa­ter as flames from the Camp Fire con­sume a home in Ma­galia, Cal­i­for­nia, on Fri­day.


A he­li­copter drops wa­ter as a wild­fire burns a home near Mal­ibu Lake in Mal­ibu, Cal­i­for­nia, on Fri­day. All 13,000 res­i­dents of Mal­ibu were or­dered to evac­u­ate Fri­day.

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