5 dead, 157,000 flee homes as wildfires race across California
Rocklin police: ‘A whole town was wiped out in 24 hours’
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.