Tens of thousands flee fast-moving Northern California fire

Massive wind-fueled fire threatens NorCal town of Paradise

JOSH EDELSON via Getty Images A auto explodes into flames as the Camp fire tears through downtown Paradise, California on November 8. The town of Paradise, California, population 27,000, has been evacuated, officials told local news reporters, as were the nearby communities of Pulga and Concow. The fire was first reported around 6:30 a.m., and over just a few hours, the fire grew from 10 acres to more than 10,000. In August, the Mendocino Complex fire became the largest wildfire ever recorded in the state, eventually burning more than 400,000 acres.

The National Weather Service had predicted unsafe fire weather conditions in California because of Santa Ana winds, which roar in from the east and accelerate down California's north-to-south-oriented mountain slopes.

Firefighter Adrien Mahnke pauses while battling the Camp Fire as it tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. "People started getting out of their vehicles and running".

Dry, windy conditions are making it hard to contain the fire.

As of Thursday afternoon, two firefighters and multiple civilians had been injured, while a significant number of structures were consumed, according to Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read.

Emergency personnel evacuate patients as the Feather River Hospital burns while the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.

In addition to the Woolsey Fire, the Hill Fire was burning northwest of Thousand Oaks in the Santa Rosa Valley.

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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. Officials have put most of Northern California is under a Red Flag Warning, which means "extreme fire behaviour" can occur within 24 hours. Traffic accidents turned roads into gridlock and residents abandoned vehicles and ran from the flames, carrying children and pets, officials said.

Travel was limited on U.S. Highway 101 in Ventura County, state highway patrol troopers said.

Crews and firefighting aircraft are responding from all over Northern California. "The message I want to get out is if you can evacuate, you need to evacuate", Honea said.

An elementary school in the region was also forced to evacuate students after the fire came within half a mile of the campus, according to CNN.

The full extent of the destruction is still unknown but authorities believe up to 1,000 structures have been destroyed and most of those were in Paradise, a Cal Fire spokesman said.

The region has grappled with serious wildfires - including the worst in the state's history, the Mendocino and Thomas fires - on and off since 2017.

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