Raging wildfire reduces California town to ashes


A wildfire is hopscotching across a northern California county at a rate of roughly 80 football fields per minute, forcing evacuations, injuring residents and sending families racing from their homes.

When he arrived there, patients were out in the front of the emergency room, where the roof had caught fire.

Evacuated hospital patients are being taken to hospitals throughout the region.

Enloe Medical Center in nearby Chico received 24 patients, spokeswoman Jolene Francis said.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company said about 14,000 residents of Butte and Plumas counties were without power due to fire activity and requests from firefighters to cut electricity in certain areas for safety, Sacramento Bee reported. Butt County CalFire Chief Darren Read told The Associated Press the destruction in Paradise could be near a thousand structures.

The town of Chico, population 93,000, was potentially threatened as 35-mile-per hour (56 kph) winds drove the blaze westward, he added. "I'm driving through fire as we speak".

He says the agency is spread thin on resources but officials are "doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas". "Once it got going it picked up very rapidly".

"My husband tried his best to get everybody out".

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Camp Fire in Butte County. Later, the sheriff's office included the campus in its evacuation orders.

May said the low humidity and the dryness of trees and brush are among the reasons for the Camp Fire and also pose a potential danger in Berkeley.

Heavy ash was falling in Chico, she said. "It can't be there anymore".

Numerous buildings have been destroyed in Paradise and an unspecified number of people injured, Gaddie said. The Associated Press said the Ventura County Fire Department had ordered evacuation of some communities in the path of the flames - not far from the site of a deadly mass shooting at a bar in the city of Thousand Oaks. "I'm moving to Mammoth (Lake) the end of this month so we may head there early".

"Hundreds of fire crews are on the scene", Lynne Tolmachoff, a Cal Fire spokesperson, told the PBS NewsHour.

Pulga is 30 miles north of Oroville and 130 miles north of Sacramento. Multiple roads in the area are closed as a result of the blaze.

Photos and videos on social media show just how intense the massive wildfire has become. From the Costco parking lot in Paradise, light from the flames lit up the morning horizon.

The Camp Fire, which started early on Thursday near Camp Creek, has been fuelled by strong winds and dry forest. Gusts have reached speeds of 65 miles per hour. The warning will remain in effect until Friday morning, officials said.