God help us! A pair of California wildfires, spurred by high winds, have scorched 30000 acres

\God help us!\ A pair of California wildfires, spurred by high winds, have scorched 30000 acres

Paradise fire: Hundreds trapped across California as blaze swells to 17,000 acres

Many Twitter users in California are using the hashtag #campfire in their tweets about the fast-moving tornado fire which prompted a mass evacuation of Paradise in Butte County

Driven by strong winds and dry conditions, the blaze dubbed the Camp Fire roared through the town of Paradise, about 85 milesnorth of Sacramento, forcing the population to flee in a chaotic mass evacuation.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Thick smoke can be seen in images from social media. Photograph: Social Media/Reuters The Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in Paradise evacuated staff and 41 patients to other hospitals, given its close proximity to the fire, said Jill Kinney, an Adventist Health spokeswoman. She said a group of 20 other patients were initially evacuated but then returned to the facility because of gridlocked traffic.

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, its that kind of devastation," said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late on Thursday. "The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out."

Read more 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.

Mr McLean estimated that a couple of thousand structures were destroyed in the town of 27,000 residents about 290 kilometres northeast of San Francisco. The extent of the injuries and specific damage count was not known as officials could not access the dangerous area.

Some of the hospitals outbuildings, such as out-patient clinics caught fire and were damaged but the main hospital was not, said Kinney. Four of the hospitals employees were briefly trapped in the basement and rescued by California highway patrol officers, she added.

Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read said at a news conference that two firefighters and multiple residents were injured.

As she fled, Gina Oviedo described a devastating scene in which flames engulfed homes, sparked explosions and toppled utility poles.

California fire: Butte County towns evacuated after fire spreads 10,000 acres | Daily Star

"Things started exploding," Ms Oviedo said. "People started getting out of their vehicles and running."

McLean says a wind-whipped wildfire destroyed thousands of structures but he said they wont have an exact count, nor have an idea over the extent of any injuries until they can get into the dangerous area. 

"Its a very dangerous and very serious situation," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. "Im driving through fire as we speak. Were doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas."

An American flag waves in the wind as a home burns during the Camp fire in Paradise. More than 18,000 acres have been scorched in a matter of hours burning with it a hospital, a gas station and dozens of homes

The blaze erupted as windy weather swept the state, creating extreme fire danger. A wind-whipped fire north of Los Angeles in Ventura County burned about 15,000 acres and at least one home in a matter of hours. It prompted evacuations of a mobile home park, a state university campus and a small community. A nearby blaze was smaller at less than 1,000 acres (1.5 square miles) but moving quickly.

Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the fire-stricken area in Northern California.

Fire rages through neighborhoods as the Camp Fire burns out of control through Paradise, fueled by high winds. The nearby communities of Pulga, Paradise and Concow, have been ordered to evacuate the area

Camp Fire Northern California: Video shows drivers dramatic escape

Shari Bernacett said her husband tried to get people to leave the Paradise mobile home park they manage. He "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to alert as many residents as possible, Ms Bernacett said.

A firefighter directs an unidentified driver who narrowly survived after a large tree fell on to the road and cracked the windshield during the Camp Fire, as it burned out of control through Paradise

Video: This is what residents fleeing the Camp Fire in Paradise saw as flames burned along escape route

"My husband tried his best to get everybody out. The whole hills on fire. God help us!" she 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.

Bernacett said she and her husband “knocked on doors, yelled and screamed” to alert as many of the residents of 53 mobile homes and recreational vehicles as possible to leave the area.

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.

“The combination of ongoing drought, high winds, and very low relative humidity will lead to dangerous conditions for fire weather in parts of California,” the National Weather Service said.

Video: Very dangerous northern California wildfire blankets sky in thick, black smoke

Concerned friends and family posted frantic messages on Twitter and other sites saying they were looking for loved ones, particularly seniors who lived at retirement homes or alone.

The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through Friday evening.

Among them was Kim Curtis, who was searching for her grandmother, who told family at 8 a.m on Thursday that she would flee her Paradise home in her Buick with her cat. Her grandmother, who is in her 70s and lives alone, never showed up up at a meeting spot in Chico, though.

Shary Bernacett said she and her husband tried to get people to leave the mobile home park they manage in Paradise, with just minutes to evacuate as the wildfire approached. 

"Weve just been posting all over social media. And just praying for a miracle, honestly," said Curtis, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Every engine that we could put on the fire is on the fire right now, and more are coming," he said. "There are dozens of strike teams that were bringing in from all parts of the state."

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Video: FLEEING PARADISE: Raw video of evacuees fleeing Paradise from Camp Wildfire

The sheriff confirmed reports that evacuees had to abandon their vehicles. Rescuers were trying to put them in other vehicles, he said.

Video: FLEEING PARADISE: Raw video of evacuees fleeing Paradise from Camp Wildfire

"Were working very hard to get people out. The message I want to get out is: If you can evacuate, you need to evacuate," Honea said.

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Video: FLEEING PARADISE: Raw video of evacuees fleeing Paradise from Camp Wildfire

The wildfire was reported around daybreak. Within six hours, it had grown to more than 26 square miles, Gaddie said.

Explosive Northern California Wildfire Is Consuming 80 Acres of Land a Minute

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

"Basically, we havent had rain since last May or before that," said Read, the fire chief. "Everything is a very receptive fuel bed. Its a rapid rate of spread."

At the hospital in Paradise, more than 60 patients were evacuated to other facilities and some buildings caught fire and were damaged. But the main facility, Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, was not, spokeswoman Jill Kinney said.

Some of the patients were initially turned around during their evacuation because of gridlocked traffic and later airlifted to other hospitals, along with staff, Kinney said.

The Latest: Town of Paradise ordered evacuated for fire

Four hospital employees were briefly trapped in the basement and rescued by California Highway Patrol officers, Kinney said.

The National Weather Service issued red-flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through Friday evening.

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