Driving through Paradise, California as the Camp Fire rages on

Nellie Chapman
November 10, 2018

The business district is destroyed.

Flames have moved so quickly there's not a lot firefighters can do.

Detective Mark Bass - who lives in Paradise, a town of 27,000 people, about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco - said he got his family to safety and then returned to help others.

Separate wildfires were ripping through northern and southern California Friday, forcing tens of thousands from their homes and prompting officials to declare a state of emergency.

"Things started exploding", resident Gina Oviedo said.

Residents of Paradise, California, are talking about narrow escapes from their burning homes as a wildfire rapidly approached. She instantly found herself stuck in gridlock.

The town of Paradise, Calif.in the Sierra Nevada foothills just north of Sacramento, best known for its deep canyons, the Feather River and a legendary story about a 19th century saloon, was almost entirely engulfed in flames, nearly all the buildings and homes destroyed.

"It is critical that residents pay close attention to evacuation orders", the Los Angeles County Fire Department said on Twitter.

An estimated 75,000 homes were also evacuated along the borders of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, according to AP.

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Satellite photos captured by NASA show how large California's wildfires have become as they continue to burn vast areas of the state. A thick, yellow haze from the fire hung in the air and gave the appearance of twilight in the middle of the day.

Adding to the complexity of the disaster is tonight the district's youth convention is being held at Trinity Life Center in Sacramento - a destination city for numerous thousands evacuating fire-threatened communities.

The entire town was ordered evacuated, setting off a desperate exodus in which many motorists got struck in gridlocked traffic and abandoned their cars to flee foot.

"The fire was so close I could feel it in my auto through rolled up windows", said Rita Miller, who fled Paradise with her disabled mother.

About 900 evacuees fleeing the Woolsey fire checked had checked into the evacuation center by 8:30 a.m. Friday, and a second gym would soon open to meet increasing demand, said Rolf Schleicher, vice president of administrative services at the college. He said he thought he could save her house, but they would only watch helplessly as their home burned.

Fire officials have not determined a cause for the blaze.

The resort is one of the most in-demand locations in California for Hollywood stars seeking privacy and luxury, and has been home to Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt and a host of other celebrities.

On Friday, Knuthson was covered from head to toe in black soot.

"We never heard from them again", Lee said.

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