A wall of fire in California: 3 wind-driven wildfires gain momentum

\A wall of fire\ in California: 3 wind-driven wildfires gain momentum
Wildfire destroys most of California town of Paradise
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.”

Video: Wildfire evacuee: Our town is flattened

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.

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

Evacuation warning has been issued for the area west of Highway 99 from Highway 149 north to Chico City Limits west to the Midway An evacuation warning has been issued for Hwy 32 at Nople Avenue UP TO the Butte County Line.

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

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

The Butte County Sheriff is advising evacuees to take Honey Run Road to Skyway. Skyway has turned into a 4-lane road at Notre Dame Boulevard to assist in getting people out of Paradise. 

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

Magalia: Carnegie Zone, North Pines Zone, North Fire Haven Zone, South Fire Haven Zone, South Pine Zone, Old Magalia Zone and South Coutelenc Zone

“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.”

Evangelical Free Church of Chico located at 1193 Filbert Avenue in Chico (Opening gymnasium, also have a large parking lot to fit trailers)

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

Updated: Chico schools not being closed; Paradise closed

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.

Skyway from Lower Paradise down the Skyway to the Chico City Limits. This evacuation warning does not include the City of Chico.

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.

Azads Martial Arts located at 313 Walnut Street, Suite 150, Chico (People can stay with their pets) Evangelical Church Chico

Camp Fire turns deadly, raging to 20,000 acres

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.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

PARADISE, Butte County (CBS SF) — Officials are describing a harrowing effort to rescue patients from a burning hospital in a Northern California town ravaged by wildfire.

VIDEO: Terrifying police radio details wildfire evacuation of seniors, pregnant woman in Butte County

“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.”

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

He said sheriff’s deputies helped patients evacuate. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said some people at the hospital were trapped in a tunnel.

“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 Camp Fire was burning at least 18,000 acres Thursday in Butte County near Chico, fanned by red flag conditions of high wind and low humidity.

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

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.

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

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.

All schools in Butte County canceled Friday

“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.”

Infernal wildfire visible from space sends California residents fleeing (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

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.

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.

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 fire began around 6:30 a.m. on Thursday near Jarbo Gap and Polga. The first firefighters on the scene reported more than ten acres aflame with “critical rate of spread,” and issues accessing the fire. Stiff winds quickly caused those flames to race and spread westward toward Paradise.

Updated: Paradise evacuations underway as Camp Fire rages

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.

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.

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.

Sheriff Honea described working within the town of Paradise that morning as the fire quickly spread toward the town, with heavy black smoke filling the air like a solid wall. “Although it was early morning, it seemed like midnight,” Honea said.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

The Latest: 20 patients sent back to evacuated hospital

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.

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.

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.

“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.”

Strange thing fell from the sky when Chico resident went to look at smoke from Camp Fire

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

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.

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

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.

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.

“Looters will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Honea said. He also admonished business-owners against price-gouging evacuees forced to flee to neighboring towns.

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

“We have been informed of a possibility of the loss of power at Little Chico Creek Elementary School. As a result, we are allowing parents at Little Chico Creek to pick up their students if they feel that is in the best interest of their family. However, roads are very crowded and it may be difficult to get to the school. Please note that Little Chico Creek will remain open unless requested by emergency services to close.

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

Schools in Paradise have all been closed. Schools in Chico are not closed, as of 11:45 a.m.  However schools in East Chico are difficult to get to because roads are being used as evacuation routes to get Paradise residents to safety.

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

“Chico Unified continues to work closely with emergency officials regarding the Camp Fire. So far, Chico has not been directly impacted.

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

CHICO — Schools in Paradise and Chico are being impacted by Camp Fire burning in the Paradise area.

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

The Camp Fire is one of several blazes that have ignited around the state amid dry and gusty conditions. As of Thursday night, the Hill Fire in Ventura County had burned 10,000 acres and the Nurse Fire in Solano County had burned 2,500 acres. “Extreme fire danger conditions” spurred the National Weather Service in Monterey to issue a red flag warning for elevations above 1,000 feet in the Santa Cruz Mountains as well as the North Bay and East Bay hills through at least Friday morning.

Wildfire smoke moves into Sacramento, Stockton regions

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

Some evacuees abandoned their vehicles while trying to flee through an inferno that had burned 20,000 acres and was 20 percent contained by about 7 p.m., according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency as the fire claimed multiple lives, injured several others and, according to Capt. Scott McLean, “pretty much” destroyed Paradise.

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.

Medical personnel evacuate patients as the Feather River Hospital burns while 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)

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.

She was at the church later that night, feeling stressed and overwhelmed. She wasn’t sure what the future will hold. Her rental home was government subsidized — Section 8 — and shes not sure how she will secure another one nearby. She said she thinks her home burned, and her cat ran away, scared off by the chaos, as she was trying to leave.

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

Alec Leeds-Grant, visiting from New York, takes a photo atop Grizzly Peak Boulevard in Berkeley, Calif., as smoke from Butte County's Camp Fire wildfire drifts into the Bay Area on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2018. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory that will remain in effect at least through Friday.(Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

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.

GRIDLEY, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 8: Caroline Bolin pauses as she talks about the "worst fire she ever seen in her life" she said, "I felt very scared," at an evacuation center for residents displaced by the Camp Fire at Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

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 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)

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

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)

(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.

OAKLAND, CA – NOVEMBER 08: Smoke from Butte County's Camp Fire is seen in this view looking west from the hills as the sun begins to set in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued an air quality advisory due to the smoke. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

(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

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.

Destroyed: In Paradise, California, entire community of 27,000 was ordered to evacuate

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.

(UPDATING) PARADISE EVACUATED: Fast-Growing Butte County Fire Has Already Burned 17000 Acres

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

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

CHICO, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 8: Camp Fire evacuee Anna Hempel covered with blankets provided by the Red Cross sits on a bench with her dog and her husband Billy Delcoure, behind her, at a evacuee center at the Neighborhood Church in Chico, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.(Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

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.

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.

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.

Raging Wildfire Wiped Out Calif. Community

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.

The Camp Fire burns in Paradise on Nov. 8, 2018.”,”kind”:”MANUAL”}; HDN.jwplayers[player-94615].mute = true; HDN.jwplayers[player-94615].startenabled = true; HDN.jwplayers[player-94615].useRelatedVideo = true; HDN.jwplayers[player-94615].isAutomatched = false; HDN.jwplayers[player-94615].useFloatPlayer = true; Now Playing: Now Playing A fire crew keeps an eye on the Camp Fire Media: San Francisco Chronicle The Camp Fire burns in a Paradise neighborhood Media: Gabrielle Lurie A home in Paradise burns during the Camp Fire Media: Gabrielle Lurie fire1109_video4 Media: Gabrielle Lurie The Camp Fire burns in Paradise on Nov. 8, 2018.

Interactive Map: Camp Fire burning in Butte County

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.”

How to locate loved ones affected by Camp Fire in Butte County

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.

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.”

Camp Fire Closes Schools In Butte County On Friday

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.

Butte County wildfire growing at rate of about 80 football fields per minute

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

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.

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.”

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.

Smoke From Camp Fire Visible In East Bay

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.

North California Wildfire: Deaths Reported, 2 Firefighters Injured

“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.”

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

Residents flee as Camp Fire tears through California towns

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.

Smoke from Camp Fire in Butte County fills air in Bay Area

#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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