Update (2:45pm ET): Authorities have confirmed five deaths related to the fire.
Fueled by high winds, the Camp Fire blazed rapidly spread the northern California town of Paradise yesterday (Nov. 8), burning over 70,000 acres and leading to the evacuation of the town’s 27,000 residents, plus thousands more in surrounding Butte County. As of writing, the fire is only 5% contained.
A police officer who works in nearby Chico was quoted in the AP describing the blaze he encountered when trying to evacuate residents: “It was just a wall of fire on each side of us, and we could hardly see the road in front of us.”
The AP recounted the terrifying scene as the fire accelerated towards the town:
Residents described fleeing their homes and getting stuck on gridlocked roads as flames approached, sparking explosions and toppling utility poles.
“Things started exploding,” said resident Gina Oviedo. “People started getting out of their vehicles and running.”
Many abandoned their cars on the side of the road, fleeing on foot. Cars and trucks, some with trailers attached, were left on the roadside as evacuees ran for their lives, said [Mark] Bass, the police officer. “They were abandoned because traffic was so bad, backed up for hours.”
Thick gray smoke and ash filled the sky above Paradise and could be seen from miles away.
California is battling wildfires across the state. Two other wind-fueled fires, the Hill and Woolsey fires, are both burning across Ventura County in southern California.