California wildfire leaves town in ruins, thousands flee

Massive wind-fueled fire threatens NorCal town of Paradise

PARADISE EVACUATED: Fast-Growing Butte County Fire Has Already Burned 5000 Acres

The extent of people's injuries was not immediately known as officials could not access the risky area, 180 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Flames from the unchecked, 8,100-hectare Camp Fire, which began early Thursday, were being driven westward by 56 km/h winds, fire officials said.

One manager of a mobile home park said her husband had struggled to alert as many residents as possible to the fire, hammering on doors and screaming for people to leave.

A series of wildfires continued their tear through California on Friday, encroaching upon an area still reeling from a mass shooting that struck the community of Thousand Oaks just one day earlier. Paradise itself is around 70 miles south of Redding, where the Carr Fire killed eight people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes in July. "God help us!", Shary Bernacett said. "I don't know. When I left it was all on fire".

Gov. -elect Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in the area and has requested federal funds to help those impacted by wildfires in the state.

"Everything was ignited by the time I got out of my house, everything was on fire", another person said. Fire officials said some structures have been destroyed in addition to injuries.

Kelly Lee told the AP she called several shelters looking for her husband's 93-year-old grandmother, Dorothy Herrera, who was last heard from Thursday morning.

The wildfire was reported around daybreak. She captured photos of low-hanging black smoke stretching for miles as she and her boyfriend evacuated Paradise. Large swathes of land elsewhere in the state now remain under a Red Flag warning, which Cal Fire says is "issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours".

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In the midst of the chaos, officials said they could not provide figures on the number of wounded, but County Cal Fire Chief Darren Read said at a news conference that at least two firefighters and multiple residents were injured.

"We're getting them on other vehicles with room".

On social media many people posted anxious messages about elderly relatives who lived near the fire and were missing, urging authorities to assist them in evacuating.

Also burning in Ventura County was the Hill Fire, which had torched 10,000 acres (4047 hectares) by Thursday night, fire officials said.

"Right now, Mother Nature is in charge", Bennett said. "There's nothing much left standing", said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesperson Scott Maclean. 'There are dozens of strike teams that we're bringing in from all parts of the state'.

"It's very chaotic", said Officer Ryan Lambert of the California Highway Patrol.

The challenging fire conditions are expected to continue Friday in Southern California where wind alerts and red flag warnings have been issued and wind gusts could reach 70 miles per hour and relative humidity could be as low as 2 percent.

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