Thousands Flee Fast-Moving Wildfire In Northern California

Camp Fire Smoke Smoke from the Camp Fire

Camp Fire Smoke Smoke from the Camp Fire

Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the fire-stricken area in Northern California.

The destructive Camp Fire has already burned over 18,000 acres of Butte County, Northern California as of Thursday afternoon, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

California is experiencing one of its worst fire years ever, with 621,743 acres burned through Sunday in areas covered by Cal Fire, almost twice the amount during the same period of 2017 and almost triple the five-year average.

Even before fire season began in early 2018, record-setting fires engulfed huge swaths of the Golden State, claiming the lives of numerous firefighters and civilians trying to flee the flames.

One hospital and 3,300 students from 11 schools in Paradise were evacuated. Almost 2,300 firefighters are battling the flames, but as of Friday morning, it was still zero percent contained.

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The conditions there are bone dry and erratic winds with speeds ranging from 20 to 55 miles per hour are rapidly fanning the flames. One of the school officials said that the fire was only half a mile away from the school by the time they got out, Fox 13 reported.

Around the same time, flames appeared south of Chico, jumping across Highway 99 and burning on both sides of the road.

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Cal Fire is continuing to update which public agencies and media outlets are tallying road closures and evacuation orders.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea called it a "very risky and serious situation", AP reports, and noted that some residents have been forced to abandon their vehicles to escape the conflagration. Within minutes, her family and thousands of people were racing to escape the raging flames of the Camp Fire.

At least 27,000 people in the town of Paradise about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco were ordered to flee.

Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean said Paradise is no longer standing.

In addition to the Woolsey Fire, the Hill Fire was burning northwest of Thousand Oaks in the Santa Rosa Valley. "The message I want to get out is if you can evacuate, you need to evacuate", Honea said.

"We're talking devastated", McLean said. She captured photos of low-hanging black smoke stretching for miles as she and her boyfriend evacuated Paradise.

"There's nothing much left standing", he said.

The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through Friday evening.

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