The flames are blazing in California months ago. Now tens of thousands are on the run from spreading fires. In the small town of Paradise alone, more than 1000 buildings are destroyed.
The fast-moving forest fires caused tens of thousands of evacuations in northern and southern California, including 75,000 in and around Los Angeles, where the residents were fleeing at short notice.
The largest inferno, triggered Thursday morning in Northern California, triggered numerous evacuations, including several entire cities. Butte County Sheriff Bureau told the Associated Press that a mandatory evacuation order has been issued for the entire city of Paradise, which has approximately 27,000 residents and is located north of Sacramento.
The fire was reported to have grown to over 70 square kilometers in a matter of hours. It is also spreading because of the wind. The heavy fire caused the fire, especially in the small town of Paradise. “It destroyed the city,” the Los Angeles Times quoted a spokesman for the local fire department. In addition to part of the local hospital, at least 1,000 other buildings were destroyed in the 27,000-inhabitant city. All residents were asked to bring themselves to safety in front of the up to 15 meters high flames.
Vice Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the Butte County district to quickly mobilize aid. The fire moves very quickly from a more remote to a populated area, said the responsible sheriff Kory Hones. It is still “very active”. According to US media, people have found refuge in several churches and large halls.
Yosemite Park closed for weeks
“This is a very dangerous fire,” Californian fire department CalFire wrote on Twitter. The authorities called on people in several western coastal states to leave their homes. The US actress Alyssa Milano had to leave her own house. She had fled along with children and dogs, she tweeted.
Forest fires also broke out in the southern state, in the District of Ventura County. With persistent summer temperatures and drought, the fire danger on the US west coast is high. Numerous major fires raged this summer, including near the famous Yosemite National Park. Popular with tourists, the Yosemite Valley was closed to visitors for weeks due to heavy smoke.
“Pretty much the entire community of paradise is destroyed, it’s that kind of devastation,” said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean on late Thursday. “The predicted wind came and put him out.”
At a press conference on Thursday evening, Darren Read, Butte County Fire Chief Cal., Said that several hundred buildings in Paradise were destroyed, possibly as many as 1,000 or more, though they will not have a more accurate number until they miss the damage. Another 15,000 are under threat, according to CalFire.
Fire rages in California: forest fire forces tens of thousands
In California, tens of thousands of people are fleeing forest fires. The rapidly spreading flames threaten several cities in the north of the US state. According to CNN, several people were injured, including firefighters. Exact numbers are not available yet.
“The whole city is in flames” Paradise Councilor Scott Lotter, who was evacuated with his family, said Thursday the Sacramento Bee. “It’s pretty bleak.”
Officials told the AP that some residents who tried to escape the fire in their vehicles had to flee on foot – some kept pets and even babies under control – as the flames approached. With few options outside of paradise, the roads blocked fast, and standing in the middle of the road made the problems even worse.
“This is pure chaos,” said CHP public relations officer Ryan Lambert of the Los Angeles Times.
Fueled by dry, windy conditions, the campfire quickly spread to over 31 square kilometers in about 12 hours and forced the closure of several roads, according to Cal Fire. The fire is contained at 0 percent and it is not yet known what triggered it.
“At the moment, Mother Nature is in charge,” said Cal Fire spokesman Bryce Bennett of the Sacramento Bee.
Other evacuated cities are Centerville and Butte Creek, northwest of Paradise. Evacuations were also ordered at the nearby hamlets of Pulga and Concow.
“It’s Bad, ” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told the Chico Enterprise record, “We’re trying to save as many people as possible and save as many lives as we can.” In Concow, some residents, like Colton Percifield, had to drive through the flames and thick smoke to survive. “The hardest thing was that it was not a view … it was pitch black,” he said on Thursday in a telephone interview with The Weather Channel. He also said that many houses in his neighborhood were destroyed by fire, but he was safe to escape.
Deadly forest fires in California: tens of thousands of people
The Feather River Hospital, a retirement home, and the Ponderosa Elementary School in Paradise were evacuated, the Enterprise-Record said, and Butte College was closed.
The patients at Feather River Hospital were rescued on Thursday afternoon when the emergency room roof went up in flames. The National Weather Service has warned that the strong winds of Santa Ana – gusts swirling from the east and California’s north-south- facing mountain ranges – will hit dry conditions until Friday, the basis for even more devastation.
The two fires bracketed Thousand Oaks when an armed man entered the Borderline Bar & Grill on Wednesday night and killed 12 people before he killed himself. The Ventura County Fire Department, Brian McGrath, said his firefighters responded to the mass killing and later joined the procession to accompany the remains of Sgt. Ron Helus from the Sheriff’s Office of Ventura County. He was killed by the gunman when he arrived on site. “Most of the staff were able to rest for a couple of hours and are now back on it,” said McGrath, the Times reported. “We are ready and we are here.”