Thousands flee North California wildfire
Paradise: A fast-moving wildfire advanced to the outskirts of the Northern California city of Chico early on Friday, forcing thousands to flee after it left the nearby town of Paradise in ruins.
Fire officials issued a mandatory evacuation notice for homes east of Chico, a city of about 93,000 people situated near Sacramento.
Flames from the unchecked, 20,000-acre Camp Fire were being driven westward by 56 km-per-hour winds, fire officials said.
The fire earlier ripped through Paradise, about 20 miles east of Chico. “The town is devastated, everything is destroyed. There’s nothing much left standing,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesman Scott Maclean.
“This fire moved so fast and grew so fast a lot of people got caught by it.”
Maclean said an as yet unspecified number of civilians and firefighters had been injured, and that it could be days before authorities would know whether anyone had died.
Paradise is located on a ridge and had limited escape routes. Traffic accidents
turned roads into gridlock and residents abandoned vehicles and ran from the flames carrying children and pets, officials said. One woman stuck in traffic went into labour.
Rescuers used a bulldozer to push abandoned cars out of the way to reach Feather River Hospital and evacuate patients as flames engulfed the building, Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter told.
The Camp Fire rages through Paradise, California on Thursday