Monday, 10 December, 2018

California wildfires: 5 people found dead in cars trying to flee

A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise Calif. on Thursday Nov. 8 2018 Massive California fires destroy town, Malibu ordered to evacuate
Ellis Copeland | 13 November, 2018, 05:55

Nine people were killed and hundreds of thousands ordered to evacuate as wildfires raged Saturday across California, with one rapidly spreading blaze threatening the resort of Malibu, home to Hollywood stars. The fire has grown to almost 110 square miles.

"The town is devastated, everything is destroyed", said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott Maclean. "These firefighters were in the rescue mode all day yesterday".

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

Fire surrounded the evacuation route, and drivers panicked.

The Butte County Sheriff's Office said officials located five bodies inside a vehicle overcome by the Camp Fire.

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

It had burned 8,000 acres and there was no containment or expected containment, according to a Ventura County Fire Department update at 3:30 a.m.

The winds calmed down in the valley, but they were still shifting and erratic, with speeds of up to 45 miles per hour (72 kph) along ridge tops, he said.

Heavy smoke and strong winds hampered visibility for crews on the firelines and residents trying to evacuate fire zones.

Almost the entire town of Paradise was destroyed in the Camp Fire.

McLean said the burned out hulks of cars littered the roads in Paradise, requiring front-end loaders to clear out the roads.

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Two large wildfires that started November 8 near Thousand Oaks, California have prompted officials to place 75,000 homes under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders.

Malibu is less than 20 miles away from Thousand Oaks, a town that is still reeling from Wednesday's mass shooting where former US Marine combat veteran Ian Long opened fire in a bar packed with college students, killing 12 people.

"Imminent threat!" the department said in its warning.

A separate wildfire north west of Los Angeles has roared south, jumping the U.S. 101 freeway early on Friday and sweeping into the Santa Monica Mountains.

Another fire was burning farther west in Ventura County, also moving toward the ocean. No fire-related injuries or fatalities have been reported as of yet, but winds expected to reach 112 kilometers per hour (70 mph) could help the fire continue to spread.

"The whole lower side of Paradise is totally engulfed in flames right now", Kevin Winstead, a resident of nearby Magalia, told KIEM TV.

"I couldn't have imagined this in my worst nightmare", one resident said. "People were abandoning their cars and running with their babies and kids".

The fire on Thursday ripped through Paradise, about 32km east of Chico. "All residents must evacuate immediately".

Kelly Lee called shelters looking for her husband's 93-year-old grandmother, Dorothy Herrera, who was last heard from Thursday morning.

This photo taken from video provided by CBS2/KCAL9 shows a wildfire burning in Camarillo, Calif., Thursday afternoon, November 8, 2018.

"The magnitude of the destruction that we are seeing is really, again, unbelievable and heartbreaking". "We're anxious sick. They do have a vehicle, but they both are older and can be confused at times".

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