Tens of thou­sands flee fast-mov­ing fire

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - OBITUARIES/NEWS -

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple were or­dered to evac­u­ate a fast-mov­ing wild­fire that ex­ploded in size Thurs­day, threat­en­ing sev­eral North­ern Cal­i­for­nia com­mu­ni­ties and forc­ing pan­icked res­i­dents to race to help neigh­bors and drive through walls of flames to es­cape.

The blaze de­stroyed an un­known num­ber of struc­tures and in­jured some civil­ians, but the ex­tent of their in­juries was not im­me­di­ately known, said Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion Capt. John Gad­die.

As peo­ple fled in cars, some aban­doned their ve­hi­cles, run­ning from en­croach­ing flames as they held ba­bies and pets in their arms, said Gina Oviedo, who de­scribed a dev­as­tat­ing scene as she evac­u­ated the town of Par­adise. Flames were en­gulf­ing homes, util­ity poles were crash­ing down and things were ex­plod­ing, she said.

Fire of­fi­cials were work­ing on a plan to res­cue pa­tients from a hos­pi­tal af­ter of­fi­cials tried to evac­u­ate them but had to turn back be­cause of grid­locked traf­fic.

“It’s a very dan­ger­ous and very se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion,” Butte County Sher­iff Kory Honea told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “I’m driv­ing through fire as we speak. We’re do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to get peo­ple out of the af­fected ar­eas.”

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