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Paradise lost: Wildfire destroys most of California town

09 November 2018

California is experiencing one of its worst fire years ever, with 621,743 acres burned through Sunday in areas covered by Cal Fire, almost twice the amount during the same period of 2017 and almost triple the five-year average.

"Everything was ignited by the time I got out of my house, everything was on fire", another person said.

Twitter and Facebook users reported friends and loved ones living in Paradise who were unaccounted for.

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

The Woosley Fire exploded from 2,000 acres to 8,000 in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in a matter of hours Thursday night into Friday.

The flames are now threatening coastal areas further south, fire officials said.

When the order came to evacuate, it was like the entire town of 27,000 residents made a decision to leave at once, they said. These winds combined with low RH and dry vegetation will increase the threat for fast spreading wildfires...particularly across grassy areas.

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A California fire official says six major fires are burning around the state, and characterized three of them as "critical".

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation", California fire captain Scott McLean said.

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.

With fires burning in both Northern and Southern California, the director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services put the number of people forced from their homes at 157,000.

Cal Fire said the Camp Fire is only 5 percent contained.

Authorities fear the fire, fueled by strong winds, could reach Chico - a city of 90,000 people where many Butte County families already have evacuated to shelters.

The five victims have not been identified, but were found near Edgewood Lane in the small city of Paradise, which has been devastated since the fire ignited on Thursday morning.

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The Camp Fire was closing in.

The blaze broke out in the Hill Canyon area and in just 12 minutes jumped the 101 Freeway.

At least one nursing home and the Feather River Hospital were evacuated and several homes were on fire, according to the Sacramento Bee, and the region is covered with thick, dark smoke.

The Camp Fire was the fiercest of several wind-driven blazes that erupted across the state on Thursday.

The Thousand Oaks Teen Center had to be used as an evacuation site overnight for people fleeing the blazes - after being used Thursday as a family reunification center, where frantic parents waited for news of their children in the wake of the massacre at Borderline Bar & Grill.

Gaddie, the fire official, said authorities were "working on a plan" to rescue the patients.

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Paradise lost: Wildfire destroys most of California town