Wildfire destroys most of California town of Paradise; thousands of structures burned

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As of Thursday afternoon, evacuations were added for several counties as the Camp Fire continued to pick up speed in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

"It's a very unsafe and very serious situation", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. "It was just a wall of fire on each side of us, and we could hardly see the road in front of us". "We're doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas". Multiple motorists have abandoned their vehicles.

"We're getting them on other vehicles with room". Emergency crews were working to help people evacuate there, he said.

Sanchez said he was in Sacramento Thursday seeing a cancer doctor when he got a call from his mother and his friends that his children had to evacuate.

Cal Fire tweeted that the fire was "very dangerous" and urged people to follow evacuation orders.

A fast-moving wildfire has roared through a Northern California town, with reports of fatalities as it engulfed dozens of buildings and tens of thousands of people fled the flames.

As winds approached 50 mph (80 km/h), causing the fire to grow rapidly in just a few hours, some residents were forced to abandon vehicles and escape on foot, local media reported. By nightfall, it had consumed more than 28 square miles (73 square kilometers) and firefighters had no containment on the blaze, McLean said.

"Firefighters continue to be challenged with extreme fire and weather conditions including strong winds and with long range spotting", Cal Fire wrote on their website Thursday.

Fire officials said the flames were being fueled by winds, low humidity, dry air and severely parched brush and ground from months without rain.

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Fire officials issued evacuation notices for homes on the east side of Chico, a city of about 93,000 people situated about 145 kilometres north of Sacramento.

On Thursday afternoon, California fire officials said the fire had expanded to about 18,000 acres, but its true size is hard to pinpoint because of heavy smoke, which can be seen from miles away.

A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

The flames swept through Paradise, which has about 26,000 residents, by about 8 a.m. Thursday and left a path of destruction in their wake.

Enloe Medical Center in nearby Chico received 24 patients, spokeswoman Jolene Francis said.

"It's very chaotic. It's a very bad fire", Officer Ryan Lambert of the California Highway Patrol said of the evacuation.

"There's nothing much left standing", he said.

"Things started exploding", Oviedo said.

"My husband tried his best to get everybody out". Within minutes, her family and thousands of people were racing to escape the raging flames of the Camp Fire. "God help us!" Bernacett said before breaking down crying. She and her husband grabbed their dog, jumped in their pickup truck and drove through flames before getting to safety, she said.

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