Friday, 18 October, 2019

Northern California's Paradise 'Destroyed' as More Wildfires Rage

US At least 5 dead in California wildfires 5 dead in California wildfires, Malibu evacuated
Patty Aguilar | 12 November, 2018, 03:53

A Cal Fire spokesman said around 2,000 buildings were believed to have been razed in Paradise.

With fires also burning in southern California, state officials put the total number of people forced from their homes at 157,000.

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. Due to extensive burn injuries, authorities did not immediately identify the victims.

The fire was zero percent contained as of Friday morning, authorities said the flames could spread all the way to Pacific Ocean. Parts of that major freeway were closed in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, fire officials said. Near Los Angeles, the affluent beachside town of Malibu was ordered evacuated as a wind-driven blaze jumped the USA 101 Freeway and raced toward the sea.

The Woolsey Fire broke out about 2:25 p.m. Thursday, pushed by strong Santa Ana winds which prevented fire commanders from ordering aerial assaults in the early morning hours.

Meanwhile, to the north, the Camp Fire has killed five people and leveled the entire town of Paradise.

The speed of the fire caught everyone off guard as it was driven forward by the high winds and dry landscape. consuming more than 28 square miles (73 square kilometers) by nightfall with firefighters unable to contain any of the blaze, McLean said.

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The sheriff's office has received reports of fatalities due to the fire, and investigators are still working to confirm the reports, Sheriff Kory Honea said in the release. Several evacuation centers were set up in nearby towns.

"We were surrounded by fire, we were driving through fire on each side of the road", police officer Mark Bass, who lives in Paradise, told NBC.

"Fire is burning out of control, heading into populated areas of Malibu", the city of Malibu tweeted. Staff and 41 patients at the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in Paradise were evacuated to other hospitals because it was close to the oncoming wildfire. The Calabasas campus is also evacuated. Millions of Californians remain under a "red flag" warning for conditions both ripe for fires and unhealthy air conditions.

Fires are expected to continue through Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

The second blaze, the Hill Fire, ignited around the same time Thursday in the Santa Rosa Valley area of Ventura County, northwest of Thousand Oaks, and has since grown to 6,100 acres. Residents of the Camarillo Springs community and a trailer park were evacuated.

Acting Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in the northern part of the state to help facilitate rescue and recovery efforts.

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