Northern California wildfire nearly quadruples in size

Northern California wildfire nearly quadruples in size
Video Shows the Terrifying Drive to Escape Massive Fire in Paradise, California
The video, published to Facebook, truly looks like something out of a movie. Theyre surrounded on both sides with flames lapping at the road as they race to get out.

I feel very vulnerable posting this but I feel I should, Brynn Parrott Chatfield wrote on Facebook. My hometown of Paradise is on fire. My family is evacuated and safe. Not all my friends are safe. Its very surreal. Things always work out, but the unknown is a little scary.

Butte County wildfire grows to 70,000 acres

The fire started in the Feather River Canyon around 6:30am on Thursday morning and its still completely uncontained. The governor has declared a state of emergency and its believed that over 1,000 homes have already been destroyed, according to the Butte County Fire Chief Darren Read.

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.

As CNN points out, over 2,200 firefighters are currently battling the Camp Fire and they face a tough road ahead. The combination of dry conditions and high winds are making this a particularly difficult fire to fight.

Multiple fatalities have been reported but its not yet clear how many people might be dead. The exact number of injuries is also unknown and authorities still dont know what caused the blaze.

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.

How fast is this fire moving? Its burning up the equivalent of 80 football fields per minute. Residents in towns like Paradise, Chico, Magalia, Concow, Yankee Hill, Butte Creek Canyon, Cherokee, and Durham have already been told to evacuate. And emergency responders are doing their best to perform welfare checks on people who are unaccounted for.

“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.

This fire did move through the town of Paradise quickly, Paradise Police Chief Eric Reinbold told the local Enterprise-Record newspaper. Were 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 weve trained for over the years. There is a lot of devastation in town.

If your area has been told to evacuate, dont hesitate. Get the hell out. You may not get another chance to escape later.

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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.

Fast-moving wildfires prompted tens of thousands of evacuations in both Northern and Southern California, including the entire beachside city of Malibu, sending residents fleeing for their lives on short notice.

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.

The largest inferno, sparked Thursday morning in Northern California, prompted numerous evacuations, including several entire towns. 

And she wasnt alone. CBS13 found post after post from families trying to locate their loved ones. From a man trying to locate his disabled brother, to a woman from Salt Lake City trying to find her grandmother, many of them are older adults, who either don’t have a cell phone or don’t always carry it with them.

Video: Camp Fire turns fatal in Paradise, California

By late Thursday, it became apparent that Paradise, a town of 27,000 people north of Sacremento, had been devastated by the fire.

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

Families who are still searching for missing loved ones can visit the Red Cross website and register. There, they can post messages that may be used to help reunite them with their relatives.

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

At a Thursday evening news conference, Butte County Cal Fire Chief Darren Read said several hundred buildings, possibly as many as 1,000 or more, were destroyed in Paradise, though they won't have a more exact number until they survey the damage. Another 15,000 remained threatened in the area, according to CalFire.

"The whole towns on fire," Paradise councilman Scott Lotter, who evacuated with his family, told the Sacramento Bee earlier Thursday. "Its pretty grim."

“All day long, I was so freaked out, Watson said. I couldn’t even go to work, I don’t want to go to work, I don’t want to do nothing.

Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said flames from the blaze had reached the eastern side of Chico, a city of more than 90,000 residents.

I was like Oh my God, I gotta get a hold of my mom and dad! said Michele Watson. My husband is telling me to keep calling, keep calling!”

It's unclear how many casualties there have been as a result of the fire, but CalFire confirmed that three firefighters have been injured. 

I wanted to go up there, but then I don’t think that’s a good idea, cause they’re not letting anyone in!” she told CBS13.

Video: Residents describe evacuating from Paradise as Camp Fire rages

Officials confirmed to the AP that some Paradise residents who attempted to escape the fire in their vehicles Thursday were forced to flee on foot – some holding pets and even babies in their grasp – as the flames drew closer. With few options out of Paradise, roads quickly became gridlocked, and abandoned cars left in the middle of the road only made problems worse.

Watson spent the day frantically messaging friends and watching terrifying images from her Modesto home, 160 miles away from the fire.

"It is pure chaos up here," CHP public information officer Ryan Lambert told the Los Angeles Times.

Actor James Woods used his celebrity status to retweet messages on Twitter and help reunite families.

Fueled by dry, windy conditions, the Camp Fire quickly spread to more than 31 square miles within about 12 hours and forced the closure of several roads, according to Cal Fire. The fire is 0 percent contained and it's not yet known what sparked it.

Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter said he was on a bulldozer that pushed cars out of the way Thursday to get to the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in the town of Paradise. When he arrived there, patients were out in the front of the emergency room, where the roof had caught fire.

"Right now, Mother Nature is in charge," Cal Fire spokesman Bryce Bennett told the Sacramento Bee.

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.

Other towns being evacuated include Centerville and Butte Creek, northwest of Paradise. Evacuations were also ordered in the nearby hamlets of Pulga and Concow.

Hospital spokeswoman Jill Kinney said all patients were evacuated. Chico-based Action News Now reported the hospital was eventually destroyed by the fire.

Camp Fire evacuation information: what you need to know

"Its bad," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told the Chico Enterprise-Record. "Were trying to get as many people out as quickly as possible and save as many lives as we can."

Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people is 180 miles northeast of San Francisco. All of the towns residents were being evacuated from the Camp Fire.

In Concow, some residents, like Colton Percifield, were forced to drive through the flames and thick smoke just to survive.

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

"The hardest part was there was no visibility … it was pitch black," he told The Weather Channel in a phone interview Thursday night. He also said many of the homes in his neighborhood were destroyed by the fire, but he was able to safely escape.

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.

Walls of flames sweep through Northern California at about 80 football fields per minute

Feather River Hospital, a retirement home and Ponderosa Elementary School in Paradise were evacuated, the Enterprise-Record also said, and Butte College was closed.

Working with Cal Fire, California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), has mobilized multiple strike teams and firefighters including aircraft, fire engines, dozers, and water tenders to battle the fire that started Thursday, the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), said Thursday in a statement.

Patients in the Feather River Hospital were rescued Thursday afternoon as the roof of the emergency room went ablaze. 

The rapid growth of the fire took many residents by surprise. Shary Bernacett said she and her husband "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to alert as many of the residents of the mobile home park they manage in Paradise just minutes before the fire arrived, she told the AP.

The fire has burned more than 18,000 acres and is threatening structures and critical infrastructure near the towns of Paradise and Magalia. It has forced thousands of people from their homes and residences.

"My husband tried his best to get everybody out. The whole hill's on fire. God help us!" Bernacett, in tears, told the AP.

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The federal government has granted California emergency funds to assist agencies battling the Camp Fire in Butte County.

The Bernacetts managed to escape the fire with their dog but had to drive through 12-foot-high flames before reaching safety on Highway 99.

At least 24,000 homes and businesses, or about half of all customers, remained without power Friday morning in Butte County, according to PowerOutage.us. Those who have safely fled the wildfire were asked to register on the American Red Cross's Safe and Well page to let friends and family know they successfully evacuated.

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

Acting governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency for Butte County, which will make more resources available for emergency responders.

Impenetrable Smoke, Embers From Camp Fire Adding To Chaos As California Town Burns

Much of the Golden State had been warned about extreme fire danger because of the return of Santa Ana winds, but in Butte County, months of dry weather combined with the windy conditions created a recipe for disaster.

"Basically, we haven't had rain since last May or before that," Read told the AP. "Everything is a very receptive fuel bed. It's a rapid rate of spread."

Thursday afternoon, a pair of brush fires were sparked in Ventura County, threatening homes and businesses in the Newbury Park area. The largest, named the Hill Fire, exploded in size and burned at least 12.5 square miles in the first two hours, Cal Fire said. By Friday morning, it had grown to 15 square miles. 

The blaze came down the hills and jumped the 101 Freeway, prompting officials to issue mandatory evacuations for the Cal State University Channel Islands campus. Before that, evacuations were ordered for the Camarillo Springs area after the fire was sparked at about 2 p.m. local time, according to the L.A. Times.

Local news helicopters broadcast visuals of structures being burned by the fire late Thursday afternoon.

The Latest: Fire captain says wildfire destroys Calif. town

The fire originated Thursday afternoon near the Santa Rosa Valley, about 10 miles northwest of Thousand Oaks.

The other fire burning in Ventura County, named the Woolsey Fire, was sparked at Woolsey Canyon and tore into the community of Oak Park early Friday, burning homes and forcing residents to flee, fire officials said.

Friday morning, authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation of the entire beachside city of Malibu, which lies along 21 miles of coastline and is home to 13,000. 

Fueled by dry conditions and strong Santa Ana winds, the blaze has burned at least 12.5 square miles and is 0 percent contained, the Ventura Fire Department reported Friday morning. Approximately 75,000 homes are under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. 

Early Friday, the Ventura County Fire Department tweeted that the fire had jumped the 101 Freeway at Chesebro Road. 

The blaze moved into Los Angeles County late Thursday, prompting new evacuation orders in Westlake Village, areas of Calabasas and Cheeseboro Canyon.

It is critical that residents pay close attention to evacuation orders. This is a very dangerous wind-driven fire, the L.A. County Fire Department said in a tweet.

So far, the blaze has damaged or destroyed 20 homes and threatens another 30,000, the Los Angeles Times reports.


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