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Camp Fire: Town of Paradise leveled in less than a day | Updates

So far, the Camp Fire has grown to 90,000 acres and is still only 5 percent contained. There are now nine confirmed fatalities from this fire, according to the Butte County Sheriff.

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12 a.m. Update:

Not a single resident of Paradise can be seen anywhere in town after most of them fled the burning Northern California community that may be lost forever. Abandoned, charred vehicles cluttered the main thoroughfare, evidence of the panicked evacuation a day earlier.

Most of its buildings are in ruin. Entire neighborhoods are leveled. The business district is destroyed. In a single day, this Sierra Nevada foothill town of 27,000 founded in the 1800s was largely incinerated by flames that moved so fast there was nothing firefighters could do.

Only a day after it began, the blaze that started outside the hilly town of Paradise had grown on Friday to nearly 140 square miles (360 square kilometers) and destroyed more than 6,700 structures, almost all of them homes, making it California's most destructive wildfire since record-keeping began.

Nine people have been found dead, some inside their cars and others outside vehicles or homes after a desperate evacuation that Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea called "the worst-case scenario." Their identities were not yet known.

"It is what we feared for a long time," Honea said, noting there was no time to knock on residents' doors one-by-one.

10 p.m. Update:

In the town of Paradise, little remains of the Sierra Nevada foothill community founded in the 1800s.

A fire that has become the most destructive in California history wiped it out in less than a day, destroying more than 6,700 structures, almost all of them homes. It grew to nearly 140 square miles (360 square kilometers).

Nine people have been found dead, some inside their cars and others outside vehicles or homes after a desperate evacuation.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea called it "the worst-case scenario," saying it is what officials long feared because there was not enough time to implement an evacuation plan.

RELATED STORY: Resources for California wildfire relief, recovery

8 p.m. Update:

Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) says it will cooperate with any investigations stemming from a massive wildfire in Northern California.

The utility told state regulators Thursday that it experienced a problem on an electrical transmission line near the site of the blaze minutes before the fire broke out. The company said it later observed damage to a transmission tower on the line.

PG&E spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo said Friday the information was preliminary and stressed that the cause of the fire has not been determined.

The fire has killed at least nine people and destroyed more than 6,000 homes. It forced the evacuation of roughly 30,000 people in the town of Paradise, about 180 miles (289 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

7 p.m. Update:

A Northern California sheriff says only one of the nine people who died in a wildfire was found inside a home.

Butte County Sheriff Korey Honea said Friday that three people were found outside homes and four people inside vehicles. He said another victim was found near a vehicle but outside it.

All the victims were found in the town of Paradise, which was evacuated as a result of the fire.

Authorities say they conducted numerous rescues Friday as they fought the flames, including using helicopters to rescue five people in the nearby community of Magalia.

The sheriff says they have taken 35 reports of missing people.

Credit: ABC10

6:30 p.m. Update:

The Camp Fire is now the most destructive wildfire in California state history, according to CAL FIRE.

During a press conference Friday evening, a CAL FIRE spokesperson said the fire destroyed more than 6,700 structures, the vast majority, 6,453, were homes. By comparison, the next most destructive fire, the Tubbs Fire in October 2017 in Napa and Sonoma Counties, destroyed 5,636 structures.

So far, the Camp Fire has grown to 90,000 acres and is still only 5 percent contained. There are now nine confirmed fatalities from this fire, according to the Butte County Sheriff.

5:25 p.m. update:

An evacuation order and an evacuation warning have been lifted by the Butte County Sheriff's Office.

Evacuation warning lifted:

  • For Residents living west of Highway 99 from Highway 149 , north to Chico city limits and west to Midway

Evacuation order lifted:

  • For residents living on Oro-Chico Highway from Estates Drive to Durham-Dayton Highway

5:05 p.m. update:

Authorities have confirmed a sixth fatality in the Camp Fire. Butte County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Megan McMann did not provide details of the death.

4:45 p.m. update:

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says it experienced a problem on an electrical transmission line near the site of a massive fire in Northern California minutes before the blaze broke out.

PG&E filed a summary on Thursday saying that it had experienced an outage on the line about 15 minutes before the fire started. The company said it later observed damage to a transmission tower on the line near the town of Paradise.

The fire has killed at least five people and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Fire officials have not determined a cause for the fire at this time. The filing was first reported by KQED News.

4:30 p.m. update:

A day after a Northern California wildfire forced tens of thousands to evacuate, dozens of people are unaccounted for and relatives are flooding social media with desperate pleas for help finding them.

Dozens of people, many of them elderly, remained unaccounted for.

Debbie McCrea has lived on a quarter-acre lot in Paradise for about 40 years and has had to evacuate from wildfires several times. Usually she calls her sister and other relatives to let them know she's getting out.

Not this time.

Her brother-in-law Steve Christensen said she has trouble walking, and he is concerned that she hasn't called.

Cherri Rolla lives in North Dakota and says a relative tried to get her 83-year-old aunt to leave her house in Paradise, but she refused. She is hoping her aunt made it to an evacuation center.

4:22 p.m. update:

Both Butte County Air Quality Management District and the California Air Resources Board have deployed "Purple Air" sensors to help monitor the smoke impacts in Butte County.

Butte County AQMD notes that the data is experimental and unofficial but it will help provide additional information for official air quality data.

An air quality report from the National Weather Service is available below:

4:15 p.m. update:

With the Butte County website down, the county is using a Google Doc to provide current Camp Fire Information to its residents.

4:10 p.m. update:

The Camp Fire is currently burning on both sides of the Feather River, South of Jarbo Gap, according to Cal Fire's Butte Unit.

4:06 p.m. update:

ABC10's Michael Anthony Adam's is at the Camp Fire. As firefighters attempt to combat flames while dealing with wind gusts and a lack of water, they captured a fire whirl on camera.

4:00 p.m. update:

Blocks and blocks of homes and businesses in a Northern California town have been destroyed by a wildfire.

Parts of the town of Paradise were still on fire on Friday. At least five people in the town died.

Patrick Knuthson, a fourth-generation resident of Paradise, said only two of roughly 22 houses on his street survived. Knuthson stayed behind and was able to save his home.

He said he lost his previous home to a wildfire in 2008.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said about 20 deputies have also lost their homes.

3:58 p.m. update:

Firefighters will save what they can in the Camp Fire, whether it's a building, a home, or on two legs or four.

Alameda County Firefighters saved a donkey running along Highway 70 at Big Bend Road. Their Strike Team Leader was able to contact animal control which responded with a trailer to transport the animal.

3:34 p.m. update:

A day after a Northern California wildfire forced tens of thousands to evacuate, dozens of people are unaccounted for and relatives are flooding social media with desperate pleas for help finding them.

Many are searching for seniors who lived alone or at retirement homes.

Diane Forsman lives in New Hampshire and says she's been trying to get information about her 83-year-old mother, who lives in the community of Magalia near the devastated town of Paradise. She says her mother can't walk by herself and is on oxygen.

Dawn Johnson says she hasn't been able to reach her father or his wife who live in an RV park in Paradise that's believed to have burned in the fire.

Johnson says her father has late-stage cancer and his wife is mostly confined to her bed.

2:50 p.m. update:

A surgical nurse who evacuated from a Northern California hospital with a wildfire roaring nearby says she had to return after her vehicle went up in flames and one of her pant legs caught fire.

Nichole Jolly said Friday that she helped evacuate patients Thursday from Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in the town of Paradise, where at least five people died.

When she tried to leave, she got stuck in the firestorm.

She said firefighters extinguished her smoldering pants, covered her in a fire blanket and brought her back to the hospital, where she waited out the fire.

She said doctors extinguished burning trees around the hospital to try to keep the flames at bay.

Jolly eventually escaped the town.

2:43 p.m. update:

The Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley is functioning as an evacuation shelter for the Camp Fire. It was one of the suggested shelters to go to after the Neighborhood Church in Chico was full.

They've notified supporters that they are "overwhelmed with food and waters," and are in need of new clothes for women and jeans, sweatshirts, and jackets for men and kids.

2:35 p.m. update:

Schools in Butte County will be closed until November 23.

County Superintendent Tim Taylor announced the closure on Friday, which comes in response to the Camp Fire. According to the Butte County Office of Education, the county and its residents need time to understand the extent of loss and disruption caused by the Camp Fire in the area and find ways to provide services to schools and their students.

2:18 p.m. update:

Modesto area resources responding to the Butte County for the Camp Fire. Thousands of firefighters are combating wildfires up and down the state. Modesto, West Stanislaus Fire, Burbank Paradise Fire, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire, and Hughson Fire join the thousands of firefighters providing mutual aid across the state.

At last count, there were 2,303 personnel combating the Camp Fire, 303 engines, 11 water tenders, 18 helicopters, and 24 dozers.

2:05 p.m. update:

Nurses and patients have recounted their dramatic escapes from a hospital in a Northern California town that was devastated by a ferocious wildfire.

Nurse Darrel Wilken told the Chico Enterprise-Record newspaper on Friday that the fire in the town of Paradise came so quickly that he and other employees at the Feather River Hospital used their own cars to evacuate patients.

Wilken said he took three patients in his car and that two of them were in critical condition. He says he battled gridlocked traffic on a road surrounded on both sides by fire.

Paradise resident Cody Knowles said his wife, Francine, was having gallbladder surgery Thursday morning.

When the evacuation was announced, she was still asleep from anesthesia. He waited until she woke up and they escaped in a hospital employee's car.

The hospital says it evacuated 60 patients to other facilities.

1:53 p.m. update:

Public safety attempts to save what they can and get people to safety, but even as they do so the Camp Fire rages.

Deputies have lost their homes and so have members of the Butte College family. California Highway Patrol - Oroville confirms that four of their officers have lost their homes while they saved others.

1:47 p.m. update:

Road closures are a fluid situation due to the wildfires.

State Route 99 is open from Los Molinos to Chico, however, it closes again upon reaching Chico. The road closes due lack of visibility caused by the Camp Fire

1:44 p.m. update:

The Camp Fire smoke has impacted air quality in other areas and has turned day to night in other areas.

ABC10's Brandon Rittiman sees the impact firsthand driving down Highway 99 where the Camp Fire burned just South of Chico.

1:35 p.m. update:

ABC10's John Bartell is at the Lime Saddle Estates area about four miles from Paradise. He's found belongings and valuables brought to the outside and, in some areas, one home was spared while another was destroyed.

Bartell revisits a home on Pentz Road that was seen in flames just last night that firefighters were unable to save and sees how the neighborhood is doing.

"Last night we were here, this home was in flames when we left. We had to leave. There was nothing that the fire crews could do, and obviously, this is what's left."

1:16 p.m. update:

When Paradise was evacuated, the order set off a desperate exodus in which many motorists got struck in gridlocked traffic and abandoned their vehicles to flee on foot. People reported seeing much of the community go up in flames, including homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement center.

Rural areas fared little better. Many homes have propane tanks that were exploding amid the flames. "They were going off like bombs," said Karen Auday, who escaped to a nearby town.

McLean estimated that the lost buildings numbered in the thousands in Paradise, about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed. It's that kind of devastation," he said.

The massive blaze that hit Paradise spread north Friday, prompting officials to order the evacuation of Stirling City and Inskip, two communities north of Paradise along the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The wind-driven flames also spread to the west and reached the edge of Chico, a city of 90,000 people. Firefighters were able to stop the fire at the edge of the city, where evacuation orders remained in place Friday, Cal Fire Cpt. Bill Murphy said.

1:05 p.m. update:

Concerned friends and family posted frantic messages on Twitter and other sites saying they were looking for loved ones, particularly seniors who lived at retirement homes or alone.

About 20 of the same deputies who were helping to find and rescue people lost their own homes. The department was trying to find them temporary housing, Sheriff Kory Honea said.

"There are times when you have such rapid-moving fires ... no amount of planning is going to result in a perfect scenario, and that's what we had to deal with here," Honea told the Action News Network.

12:27 p.m. update:

16 inmate fire crews are confirmed to be assisting with the Camp Fire.

The Camp Fire has pulled resources from up and down the state with mutual coming from local fire departments like Turlock, San Francisco, Sacramento, West Sacramento, Folsom, and many others along with help from police officers from Sacramento, Stockton, and the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

Among them are the inmate firefighters who have come from six different conservation camps from Alturas and down to Sonora to fight wildfires at only one dollar an hour.

A total of 200 inmate firefighters are part of the thousands of personnel combating the Camp Fire.

12:10 p.m. update:

Due to the Camp Fire, a Friday morning in Chico looks more like a night sky.

12:00 p.m. update:

Members of the Butte College family have lost their homes and have been displaced, according to a message from Butte College President Samia Yaqub.

Last night, fire surround the campus on three sides, according to Yaqub. Firefighters stationed crews around the campus and were able to keep the fire to the outer perimeter of Campus Drive.

The college's main campus has been serving as a staging area for emergency service personnel, and their football field has been used to medevac burn victims via helicopter.

The main campus, Chico Center, Skyway Center, Glenn County Center, and Cosmetology Center will all be closed today.

11:50 a.m. update:

The Camp Fire has compromised air quality in Chico.

Air quality is currently at moderate, but it is expected to drop into the "unhealthy for sensitive groups" range. Chico State University will have a limited amount of masks available for students and employees who identify as a sensitive population.

11:40 a.m. update:

ABC10's Brandon Rittman has reported from scene yesterday. Rittiman says the news of the five fatalities is heartbreaking.

A large number of people needed to evacuate the area after the fire broke out.

11:15 a.m. update:

According to authorities with the Butte County Sheriff's Office, five fatalities have been located in the area of Edgewood Lane in Paradise on November 8.

Authorities says the victims were located in vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire; due to burn injuries, identifications were not immediately able to be made.

Autopsies will be conducted to determine the circumstances of the deaths and start the identification process.

The Butte County Coroner's Office is investigating and attempting to identify other fatalities. Investigators are challenge by fatalities reported in areas where fire is still active and locations where hazards are in the area.

The sheriff's office asks that you you are not able to find a loved one to contact the Butte County Sheriff's Office at 530-538-7322.

11:10 a.m. update:

Due to the Camp Fire, Comcast has opened thousands of WiFi hotspots throughout the impacted areas in northern California to all residents so they can stay connected with friends, family, and emergency personnel.

A total of 3,200 XFINITY WiFi hotspots are open throughout Yuba and Butte Counties

Residents do not have to have Comcast as their provider in order to take advantage of the utility. They are free to use.

Simply select a hot spot with the "xfinitywifi" name and launch a broswer. XFINITY customers can sign in as normal and non-XFINITY customers should visit the "Not an XFINITY Internet Customer" section on the sign-in page.

For a map of XFINITY hotspots, click HERE.

11:00 a.m. update:

Organizations are reaching to shelters and evacuation centers helping people impacted by the Camp Fire.

North Valley Community Foundation is deploying funds from their Camp Fire Evacuation Relief Fund to organizations and groups that are sheltering and aiding evacuees. Money is available to help evacuation centers and those sheltering evacuees.

Organizations with requests can contact NVCF@NVCF.org with requests.

Information on donations to organizations Camp Fire fund can be found here.

10:47 a.m. update:

Due to firefighting and weather conditions, the Camp Fire has not entered the city limits of Chico and continues to move away from the city.

Sutter Dining and the residence halls remain open for on-campus students.

10:35 a.m. update:

From San Joaquin County to Butte County, officers from the City of Stockton are joining hundreds of other officers to help with the Camp Fire. They'll be working with first responders and trying to assist the community.

10:25 a.m. update:

125 personnel from the California Highway Patrol have been deployed to help with the three main fires in California. About 75 of them are located at the Camp Fire and helping with traffic control and evacuation, according to CHP Commissioner Warren Stanely.

All CHP offices in Sacramento County are on alert, working 12 hour shifts, so the CHP can move them to different fires to provide support.

10:20 a.m. update:

“We are a long ways from being out of the firefight,” said Pimlott.

Right now the focus is on life safety. There are active rescues going on with all the fires in California-particularly the Camp Fire, according to Pimlott.

10:15 a.m. update:

“That fire [the Camp Fire] from the second it started was off to the races- quickly grew 1,000 acres and was well off to burning at dangerous rates of spread,” said CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott. He added that the Camp Fire is currently one of California's three most critical fires, including the Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire.

Local firefighters, CAL FIRE, and inmate fire crews are among the 6,000 firefighters across the state.

10:05 a.m. update:

Per Ghilarducci, due to wildfires around the state 105,000 people have been evacuated in Southern California. 52,000 have been evacuated in northern California, predominantly due to the Camp Fire.

The wildfires have brought in local firefighters, totaling 1,860, to provide mutual aid up and down California and hundreds of law enforcement officers helping with security, evacuations, and any other necessary operations.

Additional aid is being requested from other states to see what resources would be available:

  • Oregon
  • Nevada
  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Wyoming
  • Washington

“We’re not just responding to what’s in front of us but also contemplating what the next 24 and 48 hours are going to look like,” said Ghillarducci.

9:55 a.m. update:

Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the California's Office of Emergency Services on the state-wide Red Flag Warning.

“We’re seeing it literally from border to border, which is making our job obviously much harder,” he said.

9:50 a.m. update:

The fire that broke out in Butte County “has been an extremely challenging fire that resulted in significant and catastrophic for that community, the community of Paradise specifically just outside of Chico,” said Ghilarducci.

9:40 a.m. update:

Per Major General Dave Baldwin of the California National Guard, there are 185 personnel on duty providing support to the Camp Fire, some flying manned and unmanned aircrafts.

According to the Major General, the rest of the National Guard is on alert and prepared to deploy if necessary.

9:35 a.m. update:

CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott says are critical and hundreds of resources are in the area, and every available aircraft is signed and responding. However, high winds and visibility can hinder their ability to use those resources.

“Right now, it’s on all hands on deck…,” said Pimlot.

9:30 a.m. update:

Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the California's Office of Emergency Services says there have been injuries and loss of life in the California wildfires. However, numbers are still being accounted for as officials work with local authorities.

Ghilarducci adds that the magnitude of this situation is heartbreaking and adds that there is a state wide Red Flag warning.

Original story:

Evacuations have been ordered for the edges Chico, which is about 15 miles from a town where thousands of buildings were destroyed by the fast-moving Camp Fire, which grew to 70,000 acres overnight.

Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says flames from the blaze that devastated the town of Paradise had reached the eastern side of Chico, a city of about 90,000 people. The fire is only currently five percent contained.

Authorities have said that at least two firefighters and multiple residents were injured in Paradise. McLean said Friday morning that he had no immediate update on injuries.

He says strong winds made it difficult for aircraft to drop retardant effectively on the fire.

The Butte County Sheriff's Office says an evacuation ordered was issued Friday for the small communities of Stirling City and Inskip, north of Paradise, where thousands of homes were destroyed.

Cal Fire Capt. Bill Murphy says winds have calmed down in the valley but that there are "shifting, erratic winds" with speeds of up to 45 miles per hour (72 kph) along ridge tops.

The blaze that started Thursday morning east of Paradise and decimated the town also spread to the west.

All public schools are closed in Butte County today due to the fire, the Butte County Office Education announced. Chico State University via Twitter said its campus is safe and not under evacuation at this time. The campus is closed today and events scheduled for the weekend have been canceled.

Harrowing tales of escape and heroic rescues emerged from Paradise, where the entire community of 27,000 was ordered to evacuate. Witnesses reported seeing homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement home up in flames.

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation," said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late Thursday. "The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out."

RELATED STORY: Latest evacuations and where to find evacuation centers

RELATED STORY: Latest maps and road closures in Butte County, California

RELATED STORY: Videos and photos from Butte County, California wildfire

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