Fremont Firefighters Arrive In Butte County To Fight Wildfire

Fremont Firefighters Arrive In Butte County To Fight Wildfire
Camp Fire devastates Paradise near Chico — businesses, church, numerous homes burn
PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town and destroyed hundreds of structures.

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

“This fire did move through the town of Paradise quickly,” said Paradise Police Chief Eric Reinbold. “We’re very grateful for our partnerships with allied agencies, Cal Fire, our agency, the town staff worked as quickly as possible to evacuate, using our evacuation plans. And the things that we’ve trained for over the years. There is a lot of devastation in town. Just to reiterate, we can’t confirm how many structures, but at this point it’s very devastating to the town.’

McLean estimated that a couple of thousand structures were destroyed in the town of 27,000 residents about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, where residents scrambled to flee. The extent of the injuries and specific damage count was not immediately known as officials could not access the dangerous area.

Then the fire turned east. It reached Highway 99 near Neal Road by 7:30 p.m. and was approaching Highway 32 near upper Bidwell Park by 9 p.m. Evacuation orders were issued from Bruce Road east, from East 20th Street to Highway 32 along the east side of Chico, and in the Canyon Oaks subdivision farther north. Homes were reported burning on the lower Skyway near Oak Ridge Drive and Spanish Garden Drive.

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.

Wildfire smoke moves into Sacramento, Stockton regions

An Associated Press photographer saw dozens of businesses and homes leveled or in flames, including a liquor store and gas station.

“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.”

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 up to 15 square miles and at least one home in a matter of hours. It threatened thousands of homes and prompted evacuations of a mobile home park, a state university campus and some neighborhoods. A nearby blaze was smaller at about 2 square miles but moving quickly.

Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the fire-stricken area in Northern California and requested a presidential disaster declaration, saying that dangerous weather conditions were expected to last several days.

Tens of thousands had already been evacuated, perhaps as many as 50,000 people, according to the sheriff. The Sheriff’s Office also has received hundreds of calls requesting deputies to perform welfare checks on unaccounted people in the fire zone. Officials expected to work through the night responding to those calls.

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, Bernacett said.

Cal Fire-Butte County Chief Darren Read said in the afternoon that hundreds of structures in Paradise have burned, perhaps as many as 1,000. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said there are reports of multiple fatalities, and authorities are trying to verify how many.

“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.

According to PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno, 32,000 customers were without power as a result of the fire in Butte and Plumas counties, which includes those in the Paradise, Pulga and Concow areas. No public safety power shut off has been implemented.

Video: RAW: Aerial Footage Of Camp Fire Burning In Butte County

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.

Around 2:30 p.m., Cal Fire said 20,000 acres had burned with no containment. The fire was exhibiting extreme fire behavior, Cal Fire public information officer Rick Carhart said. Firefighters are expecting sustained winds up to 30-35 mph on the fire.

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 massive plume from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon and near Paradise, wafts over the Sacramento Valley as seen from Chico on Thursday morning. (David Little — Enterprise-Record)

The Latest: 20 patients sent back to evacuated hospital

Among them was Kim Curtis, who was searching for her grandmother, who told family at 8 a.m. 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.

The fire started in the Feather River Canyon near Pulga and Highway 70, then burned west. It jumped to 18,000 acres in eight hours Thursday, ripping across the Concow Valley and into and across Paradise.

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

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Feather River Hospital and all Paradise schools were all evacuated. Hospital patients were sent to Enloe Medical Center in Chico and Oroville Hospital.

Tens of thousands flee fast-moving Northern California fire

“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.”

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

The fire started about 6:30 a.m. Thursday at Camp Creek Road near Pulga. Read said the cause of the fire is under investigation, and likely would be for “quite some time.”

“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.

The wildfire was reported around daybreak. Within six hours, it had grown to more than 26 square miles (69 square kilometers), Gaddie said.

Fire officials said the flames were being fueled 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.”

Video: 27000 People Told To Evacuate California Town Of Paradise Due To Impending Wildfire | TIME

CAMP FIRE: 20,000 acres destroyed, 15,000 structures threatened by Butte Co. wildfire

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.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. John Gaddie said crews were still focused Thursday on helping people get out of the town of Paradise. The fire has consumed more than 26 square miles (69 square kilometers) and forced residents of the town to evacuate. The town of about 27,000 people is 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

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.

A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Terrifying video shows family surrounded by flames as they flee the Camp Fire

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

PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno said about 34,000 customers in Butte and Plumas counties are without power. The fire has consumed more than 26 square miles (69 square kilometers) and forced residents of the town of Paradise to evacuate. The town of about 27,000 people is 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

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.

Tina Greer says the Paradise care home where her disabled son lives with five other patients is evacuating, but it takes time to pack the patients' medical equipment and medicine. Her 25-year-old son has cerebral palsy, needs a wheelchair to get around and is fed through a tube.

Associated Press writers Paul Elias, Jocelyn Gecker, Janie Har, Daisy Nguyen, Olga R. Rodriguez, Sudhin Thanawala and Juliet Williams in San Francisco, Sophia Bollag in Sacramento and Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu contributed to this report.

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 Thursday morning as authorities ordered the area evacuated.

Camp Fire explodes to half the size of SF in a day, growing at rate of 10 Costco stores per minute

Nicole Kowalczyke of Chico stepped outside to look at smoke from the Camp Fire Thursday morning, and a singed piece of paper fell from the sky.

Northern California residents evacuated as wildfire grows

Nicole Kowalczyke of Chico stepped outside to look at smoke from the Camp Fire Thursday morning, and a singed piece of paper fell from the sky.

The Ventura County Fire Department has also ordered evacuation of some communities in the path of the fire, which erupted a few miles from the site of Wednesday night's deadly mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar.

Smoke blankets the air over the California State University, Chico, which is 15 miles from the Camp Fire burning near Paradise, Calif. on Nov. 8, 2018.

San Francisco Bay Area air quality officials say the fire is sending smoke into the area, and children, elderly and people with respiratory problems should take precautions. The sky was hazy in San Francisco.

Smoke Visible in Mendocino County Confirmed as Drift Smoke from Camp Fire in Butte County

Smoke blankets the air over the California State University, Chico, which is 15 miles from the Camp Fire burning near Paradise, Calif. on Nov. 8, 2018.

Adventist Health Feather River said in a post on Twitter Thursday that is transported to surrounding area hospitals. Hospital officials have not returned calls from The Associated Press about the evacuation.

Man Fire Drives Through Camp Fire Flames in Northern California

After evacuating from her home in Paradise, Angie Waltmon wipes away a tear while watching the Camp Fire from along Highway 191 in Butte County.

After evacuating from her home in Paradise, Angie Waltmon wipes away a tear while watching the Camp Fire from along Highway 191 in Butte County.

Shary Bernacett says she and her husband tried to get people to leave the mobile home park they manage in Paradise, California, with just minutes to evacuate as a wildfire approached the east side of town.

Cellist escapes Butte County wildfire on bicycle

Crews struggle to contain the fast-moving Camp Fire as it burns off of Pentz Road in Paradise (Butte County).

Gaddie said he was aware of four or five injuries, but no deaths. He said the fast-moving flames forced fire crews to shelter people at a Walgreens and other locations until flames passed through.

Crews struggle to contain the fast-moving Camp Fire as it burns off of Pentz Road in Paradise (Butte County).

Oviedo described a devastating scene, saying homes were engulfed in flames and utility poles were crashing down. She said people left their vehicles and ran when they started hearing explosions.

Authorities yell to drivers to evacuate the area off of Pentz Road in Paradise (Butte County) during the Camp Fire.

Authorities yell to drivers to evacuate the area off of Pentz Road in Paradise (Butte County) during the Camp Fire.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints burns during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints burns during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.

The fire erupted Thursday afternoon and the Ventura County Fire Department quickly ordered evacuations of the community of Camarillo Springs and a trailer park as the fire jumped U.S. 101.

A hotshot firefighter watches as the Camp Fire burns off of Pentz Road in Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

A hotshot firefighter watches as the Camp Fire burns off of Pentz Road in Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

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.

A firefighter works to save a house off of Pentz Road during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom is declaring a state of emergency in Northern California because of a dangerous wildfire that has destroyed homes and forced thousands to flee.

Berkeley Fire Department responds to fires in Oakland, Butte County

A firefighter works to save a house off of Pentz Road during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

Inmate firefighters dig a trench to try and save a house off of Pentz Road during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

(Newser) – 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 who had to drive through walls of flames to escape, the AP reports. It was not immediately known if there were injuries or fatalities. As people fled in cars, some abandoned their vehicles, running from encroaching flames as they held babies in their arms and pets, 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.

The Latest: Hospital patients evacuated amid wildfire

Inmate firefighters dig a trench to try and save a house off of Pentz Road during the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

CAL FIRE officials confirmed that two firefighters have been injured in the response. There have been no confirmed civilian injuries — however, Sheriff Honea said that there have been multiple reports of potential fatalities. Deputies are still working to confirm those reports, but in many cases cannot get to the reported areas safely.

A line of cars evacuate on Hwy. 191 during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.

As deputies worked to issue evacuation orders, they reportedly received 1,038 individual 911 calls related to the fire. Hundreds were from people reporting that they could not get away or had loved ones that they could not reach. Honea said that deputies had addressed roughly 200 of those calls — with 400 remaining unresolved.

California: tens of thousands evacuated as wildfire explodes in size

A line of cars evacuate on Hwy. 191 during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.

Evacuees Heidi Bigelow (right) and daughter Marina Joy Bigelow, 18 (left) who fled their home in Paradise, take a moment with each other at the Red Cross shelter in Chico, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

Additionally, Butte Colleges main campus in Oroville is closed Nov. 8 and 9. Classes schedule tonight at the Chico Center, Skyway Center and Cosmetology Center are cancelled Nov. 8 and 9. The Glenn Center will remain open. The Colleges main campus is being used as a staging area for Cal Fire.

Evacuees Heidi Bigelow (right) and daughter Marina Joy Bigelow, 18 (left) who fled their home in Paradise, take a moment with each other at the Red Cross shelter in Chico, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

Cars escape the Camp Fire as they drive south on Pentz Road in Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

“The whole lower side of Paradise is completely engulfed in flames right now,” said Kevin Winstad, a Paradise resident who evacuated to Chico. “The Pacific, Princeton area, Feather River Hospital — all is engulfed in flames right now. Not one home will be left standing.”

Cars escape the Camp Fire as they drive south on Pentz Road in Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

Troopers are working to close down all northbound traffic on SR-99 to prevent access into Chico. CHP is also stopping all northbound traffic on Hwy 99 at Hwy 149. All lanes of Hwy 99 from Skyway south to Hwy 149 are being turned for southbound traffic fleeing the fire.

(l-r) Evacuees Joanne Hansen and granddaugter Annalyce Johnson, 9, sit outside of the Red Cross shelter after evacuating their home in Paradise area in Chico, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. They planned to sleep in their car for the night.

(l-r) Evacuees Joanne Hansen and granddaugter Annalyce Johnson, 9, sit outside of the Red Cross shelter after evacuating their home in Paradise area in Chico, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. They planned

Evacuation order remain in effect for the communities of Magalia, Paradise, Butte Creek Canyon, Concow, Polga, Yankee Hill, Jarbo Gap and a number of surrounding areas. As is often the case, some people refused to heed the initial evacuation orders.

Evacuee Marvis (center) takes a moment as she listens to her son Jason (right) at the Red Cross shelter in Chico, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

INITIAL REPORT: Authorities have ordered the evacuation of an entire town in Northern California after a runaway wildfire began rushing toward the town. At last report, the Camp Fire covered 5,000 acres and has no containment.

Evacuee Marvis (center) takes a moment as she listens to her son Jason (right) at the Red Cross shelter in Chico, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

The fire has grown so quickly that details remain sparse at this time. Authorities had prioritized the evacuation of Feather River Hospital in Paradise — presumably because the hospital lay directly in the fires path.

Evacuee John J. Underhill rests at the Red Cross shelter in Chico, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

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

Intense videos show the Camp Fire ravaging Northern California

Evacuee John J. Underhill rests at the Red Cross shelter in Chico, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

According to PG&E there are 34,000 customers are without power in Butte and Plumas counties due to the Camp Fire. For safety, PG&E has also shut off natural gas service to all 12,000 gas customers in Paradise.

PARADISE, Butte County — More than 30,000 people fled for their lives Thursday as a late-season wildfire swept across this town in the Sierra foothills, incinerating numerous homes and businesses and prompting desperate rescues of residents trapped inside buildings and on clogged evacuation routes.

Evacuation orders have been added along Highway 70 from Concow south including all of Yankee Hill on both sides of the highway. Paradise and multipe surrounding areas remain on evacuation orders.

It Is Pure Chaos Up Here: Camp Fire Injures Residents, Forces Thousands to Flee as Flames Invade Paradise, C

The blaze exploded to more than 20,000 acres, adding to a catastrophic two years of wildfires in California that have raised new questions about how the state will cope with a warmer and drier climate.

Paradise is a community of more than 26,000 residents, located just east of Chico in Butte County. By 9 a.m. on Thursday morning, authorities had ordered the evacuation of the entire town.

Smoke turned the daytime sky black in Paradise, a community of 27,000 that sits 15 miles east of Chico and 80 miles north of Sacramento. Authorities raced to evacuate a hospital while calling in hundreds of crews from across the region to attack the flames from the ground and by air.

“There’s pretty much complete devastation in that community — entire streets where houses are wiped out,” said Lynne Tolmachoff, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “It’s not looking very good at all.”

Video clips from Camp Fire, wildfire growing rapidly in Butte County, California on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate several Sierra foothills towns near Chico as a wildfire raged out of control.

Although specifics are not yet available, CAL FIRE confirmed significant destruction of property in the area — with “several hundred” structures destroyed.

As of Thursday evening, the Camp Fire had no containment, and 15,000 structures were threatened. The flames moved within 2 miles of Chico city limits, and around 9 p.m., residents in the southern part of the city were advised to evacuate.

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The Associated Press also reports that some evacuees were forced to abandon their vehicles as they fled the scene of the fast-moving fire.

High winds were hampering air tankers’ efforts to extinguish the flames, said Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean. Similar winds were expected to continue through the night. Red-flag conditions were in place until at least 10 a.m. Friday.

Fire officials said they had received reports of some deaths from the blaze. At least two firefighters were injured. Several hundred homes, and perhaps more than 1,000, had burned.

“We were engulfed in flames,” said Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter. “I don’t know what we are coming back to after this. Probably a moonscape. As we drove out, homes were burnt to the ground.”

Among the structures lost to the flames were a McDonald’s, a Mormon church, a Black Bear Diner and Paradise’s wood welcome sign. Streams of residents hurried out of town, inching along the few available routes.

Family members and friends searched for scores of missing people. They inundated 911 with hundreds of requests for help tracking down people who were feared trapped behind fire lines. They flooded Twitter too, posting names and photos of loved ones, along with the addresses where they’d last been seen.

Hundreds of homes destroyed by California wildfire, deaths reported

The cause of the fire, which ignited at 6:30 a.m., was under investigation. Authorities released no immediate information about the extent of the damage and the toll of injuries. The inferno was so huge that dense smoke clogged skies throughout the Bay Area — roughly 200 miles southwest of the blaze — and residents across Northern California were warned to expect poor air quality through Friday.

Evacuation efforts were “difficult, to say the least,” said Lt. Al Smith of the Butte County Sheriff’s Office, noting that several deputies who ventured into evacuation zones to rescue residents also became trapped by flames burning around them. “I can’t think of an area that’s safe right now.”

The blaze, named the Camp Fire because of its proximity to Camp Creek Road near Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon, was scorching several areas within Paradise, which is home to many retirees. Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom, filling in while Gov. Jerry Brown traveled out of state, declared a state of emergency in Butte County.

The Butte County towns of Paradise, Pulga and Concow were evacuated shortly after the fire started. Cal Fire officials said residents of Magalia, Butte Creek Canyon and Butte Valley had also been ordered to leave.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. reported that 34,280 customers in Butte County and neighboring Plumas County had lost power.

Thousands flee fast moving wildfire in Northern California

Firefighters spent the morning trying to evacuate trapped Paradise residents while creating firebreaks within the town and even moving some people to empty parking lots. Engines from the San Francisco and Santa Rosa fire departments and other California agencies were aiding Butte County firefighters.

The Paradise Unified School District and Butte College closed their doors Thursday morning under evacuation orders from fire officials. The Paradise schools superintendent said she had seen photos of several schools burning.

Butte County Fire Burns Multiple Structures as People Flee; Multiple Reported Injured; Humboldt County Strike Team Responding

Feather River Hospital in Paradise was evacuated after flames jumped a road leading to the hospital. Fire officials said some people were trapped in a tunnel under the hospital and forced to shelter in place before escaping. The hospital largely survived, but an auxiliary building burned, according to Cal Fire.

“In the past few years, just the way fires have moved, firefighters have had to help with evacuations before they can go back in to put out the fire,” Tolmachoff said.

Butte County officials did not send an Amber Alert-style message to warn people in and around Paradise about the rapidly spreading fire early Thursday, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman said. Instead, the department turned to an opt-in program to contact an estimated 23,000 people who had signed up to receive emergency notifications or who had landline telephones.

In October 2017, Sonoma County officials opted not to send out the Amber Alert-style message during the Tubbs Fire, which eventually killed 24 people. That decision was criticized later in a state audit.

In Paradise on Thursday morning, Jennifer Broussard, 41, woke to thunder — or at least that’s what the fire sounded like, she said.

She and her husband, Ryan, 50, left their home in a rush. Both in their pajamas, they had no time to change into anything else. Police were everywhere shouting, “Move! Go! Get out!”

She moved from Los Angeles to Paradise 20 years ago, and was surprised upon arriving in town how clear the stars were at night. But in the daytime Thursday, she couldn’t see anything except black smoke obscuring the sun and sky.

“The simple things we take for granted,” Broussard said at an evacuation shelter in Oroville. She tapped ash from her cigarette on the concrete and said, “That is a whole town gone.”

Wildfire Destroys Most Of Butte County Town Of Paradise

The intensity of the Camp Fire’s surge through Paradise drew immediate comparisons to the Tubbs Fire, which wiped out whole neighborhoods in and around Santa Rosa, and the Carr Fire, which blitzed Redding this year. Gov. Brown and others have raised alarm about the nearly year-round danger in the state, but no broad solutions have surfaced. Twice in the past two years, fires have set the state record for size.

Camp Fire Closes Schools In Butte County On Friday

In the tiny town of Concow, northeast of Paradise, Nate Tockey, 35, got a call from a neighbor at 7 a.m. warning him about the fire. He woke his three children, warned his wife and saw a dark, orange sky when he went to the porch.

His wife, Kat Tockey, 36, left her purse behind, and they didn’t bother to grab their computer or important papers from a filing cabinet. By the time the five of them piled into a car, 50- to 100-foot flames were approaching from three sides. They could feel the heat through the closed windows of their sport utility vehicle.

“At this point I’m pretty sure the house is gone. I’m prepared for the worst,” Nate Tockey said. “We knew we lived in an area of fire danger, but we never knew it would be like that.”

Camp Fire: Hundreds of structures destroyed as fire swells to 20,000 acres | Updates

Kat Tockey and the children — 9-month-old and 11-year-old sons and an 8-year-old daughter — were staying at the Neighborhood Church evacuation center in Chico. Pets weren’t allowed, so Nate Tockey said he would sleep in the car with their rottweiler, Tig, and cat, Kitsy.

Kendra Luck evacuated with her father and stepmother a few hours after the fire started. Her stepmother spotted flames shooting up a hillside outside of town around 8 a.m., and the three of them started packing.

An hour later, the smoke was so dense that they turned lights on in the house. The sky was an eerie — but familiar — red glow. Her father and stepmother have lived in the same house in Paradise for 16 years, and this was their third fire evacuation.

“They’re getting used to this,” said Luck, a former Chronicle photographer. “Everything was glowing that fire red. That was enough for them, so we just packed up and left.”

Hundreds of people were unaccounted for Thursday evening after the mad rush to evacuate. Especially worrisome were reports of older people — including some with dementia or mobility problems — who had not checked in with friends or relatives.

A 96-year-old woman who slipped into a stranger’s car to flee from her retirement home as it was engulfed early Thursday was among the missing. Marcia Hamilton, who had been living at Feather Canyon Retirement Community for nine years, was evacuated from the senior home around 9:30 a.m., just as walls of fire closed in.

#CampFire On Skyway in Paradise CA. Two spot fires on skyway as of 20 mins ago #CalFire pic.twitter.com/6HbjUBYbEP

She joined dozens of other residents outside the main entrance waiting for rides out of town, but firefighters, staffers and others were scrambling to find transportation, said Hamilton’s daughter, Lynn Hamilton. Her mother was put in a car with strangers who said they would take her to an evacuation center. But Lynn Hamilton never heard whether they arrived.

She was worried in part because her mother left without medication required for her heart condition and cholesterol, and without her walker or a cell phone.

#campfire from Fair street in Chico. My little heart is breaking for the Ridge. Stay safe Paradise and surrounding communities pic.twitter.com/wCXS7gE9dD

Chronicle staff writers Kimberly Veklerov, Megan Cassidy and Lauren Hernandez contributed to this report.

Kurtis Alexander, Lizzie Johnson, Gwendolyn Wu and Erin Allday are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: kalexander@sfchronicle.com, ljohnson@sfchronicle.com, gwendolyn.wu@sfchronicle.com, eallday@schronicle.com Twitter: @kurtisalexander, @lizziejohnsonnn, @gwendolynawu, @erinallday


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