9 die as wildfires ravage California
PARADISE: Nine people died and over 150,000 were evacuated on Friday as fierce wildfires raged across California, with one blaze threatening the resort of Malibu.
All of the fatalities were reported in a massive inferno in the town of Paradise, where the entire population of 26,000 was ordered to evacuate, officials said.
The fast moving blaze, known as the Camp Fire, began on Thursday morning. Fanned by strong winds, it has scorched 70,000 acres and has not been contained, the California Fire Department said.
Two other fires broke out in southern California, one in Ventura County near Thousand Oaks.
Residents who escaped Paradise shared videos as they drove through tunnels of swirling smoke and orange flames to outrun the wildfire.
More than 2,200 firefighters were battling the blaze, backed up by helicopters and water tankers.
Meanwhile, in another episode, teachers, aides and bus drivers in Northern California hurriedly loaded more than 100 school students into several cars and school buses as a fast-moving wildfire approached them, driving hours through smoke and flames to safely reunite all the children with their families, according to one of the teachers who helped get the people to safety.
Marc Kessler, a science teacher at a Paradise Unified School District middle school, said he arrived at work early Thursday and saw smoke plumes that soon grew uncomfortably near.
He and others quickly realized they would have to leave as the sound of propane tanks exploding in the heat got closer.
A sheriff’s deputy arrived and told them to get to Chico, a nearby city.
Houses continue to burn under a darkened sky in Paradise, California.