Five killed in wild­fire

United States: Vic­tims found in cars af­ter blaze in­cin­er­ated town

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - WORLD NEWS -

Five peo­ple have been found dead in their burned­out ve­hi­cles af­ter a wild­fire in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia in­cin­er­ated most of a town of about 30,000 peo­ple.

Only a day af­ter it be­gan, the blaze near the town of Par­adise had grown to nearly 110 square miles and was burn­ing com­pletely out of con­trol.

“There was re­ally no fire­fight in­volved,” Scott McLean of the Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion said, ex­plain­ing that crews gave up at­tack­ing the flames and in­stead helped peo­ple get out alive. “These fire­fight­ers were in the res­cue mode all day yes­ter­day.”

With fires also burn­ing in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, state of­fi­cials put the to­tal num­ber of peo­ple forced from their homes at 157,000.

Evac­u­a­tion or­ders in­cluded the en­tire city of Mal­ibu, which is home to 13,000, among them some of Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest stars.

When Par­adise was evac­u­ated, the or­der set off a des­per­ate ex­o­dus in which many mo­torists got stuck in grid­locked traf­fic and aban­doned their ve­hi­cles to flee on foot.

Peo­ple re­ported see­ing much of the com­mu­nity go up in flames, in­clud­ing homes, super­mar­kets, busi­nesses, restau­rants, schools and a re­tire­ment cen­tre.

Ru­ral ar­eas fared lit­tle bet­ter. Many homes have propane tanks that were ex­plod­ing amid the flames. “They were go­ing off like bombs,” said sur­vivor Karen Au­day,.

Mr McLean es­ti­mated that the lost build­ings num­bered in the thou­sands in Par­adise, about 180 miles north east of San Fran­cisco.

“Pretty much the com­mu­nity of Par­adise is de­stroyed. It’s that kind of dev­as­ta­tion,” he said.

Evac­uees from Par­adise sat in stunned si­lence yes­ter­day out­side a Chico church where they took refuge the night be­fore. They all had har­row­ing tales of a slow-mo­tion es­cape from a fire so close they could feel the heat in­side their ve­hi­cles as they sat stuck in a ter­ri­fy­ing traf­fic jam.

“It was just a wall of fire on each side of us and we could hardly see the road,” po­lice of­fi­cer Mark Bass said.

DE­STRUC­TION: Thou­sands of build­ings have been lost in the fire – with 157,000 peo­ple flee­ing their homes

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