Thousands Flee Fast-Moving Wildfire In Northern California

FIRE PIC 1 CAL FIRE BUTTEcredit Cal Fire Butte County

The Camp Fire began early Thursday in Paradise, about 90 miles north of Sacramento, burning 20,000 acres and threatening 15,000 structures as it moved west toward Chico Thursday night, according to Cal Fire officials.

Paradise is popular with retirees, and has a population of about 27,000.

The fire started at about 6:30am Thursday morning and reached 5,000 acres in three hours, fueled by high winds. 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 told The Associated Press.

"Had he not put out that fire, I would not have made it to the auto", she said.

Scott McLean, a spokesman for Cal Fire, said the fire in Northern California's Butte County has "destroyed the town".

The Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

Terrifying videos posted on social media showed cars driving along roads that looked like tunnels of fire with flames on both sides of the road. But the main facility, Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, was not, spokeswoman Jill Kinney said. "By the time we got out, the flames were a half mile away from the school".

One Paradise resident who fled the encroaching blaze told the Bee: "It was so hot".

Resident Shari Bernacett told the Associated Press she "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to get mobile home residents in her area to leave as fire consumed the hillside. State fire authorities said they could not confirm the reports.

Medical personnel evacuate patients from the the Feather River Hospital.

The California Highway Patrol closed a nearby highway and urged motorists to avoid the area.

May said the low humidity and the dryness of trees and brush are among the reasons for the Camp Fire and also pose a potential danger in Berkeley. The warning will remain in effect in the area until Friday morning, officials said.

'Every engine that we could put on the fire is on the fire right now, and more are coming, ' he said.

Gusty winds and low humidity were among the factors that led to the warning.

Driven by strong winds and dry conditions, the blaze dubbed the Camp Fire swept through the town of Paradise, burning part of the local hospital and possibly destroying over a thousand homes and other structures, county and city officials said.

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