Almost entire town called Paradise destroyed and up to 46 feared dead in California’s worst wildfires
ELEVEN people have died and 300,000 were forced to flee their homes as the worst wildfires in Californian history rage through the US state.
A record dry spell combined with winds gusting up to 60mph have sent flames tearing from celebrity beach hamlet Malibu in the south to the town of Paradise in the north. Three separate fires have scorched more than 130,000 acres, forcing President Trump to declare a state of emergency.
Paradise, a picturesque town home to 27,000, 175 miles north of San Francisco, was almost totally destroyed.
Nine people from the town died including five who were burned alive in their cars as they attempted to flee down a wooded country road that was engulfed by flames. Sheriff Kory Honea said: ‘The people in the cars weren’t able to get out. The flames overtook them.’
Another 35 people from the town are missing feared dead while more than 6,700 homes and businesses were incinerated. Paradise deputy mayor Greg Bolin said 90 per cent of the town had been razed to the ground. ‘It’s just ash and rubble,’ he said. ‘It’s been wiped out.’
Last night officials said only five per cent of the fires had been brought under control and warned the death toll would ‘almost certainly’ rise.
In Malibu, two people were reported dead last night. Stars including Lady Gaga, Cher, Martin Sheen, Gerard Butler and Mel Gibson were forced to leave their beachside homes in the area.
One Direction singer Liam Payne, 25, revealed the mansion he bought in Calabasas near Malibu for £10 million in 2015 is in the path of the fire.
He said last night: ‘I’m about to lose my house and its memories. Even worse, tragically, people have died.’
INFERNO: A firefighter tackles the flames near Paradise. Cars were incinerated, left, and hospitals forced to evacuate, right