In Northern California, the Camp Fire advanced rapidly to the outskirts of the city of Chico early on Friday, forcing thousands to flee after it left the nearby town of Paradise in ruins, California fire officials said.
The Woolsey fire and smaller Hill blaze have destroyed more than 150 homes and prompted evacuation orders for about 250,000 people from Thousand Oaks northwest of Los Angeles to the celebrity enclave of Malibu.
A piece of art sits outside the burned remains of home Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, that was destroyed by a wildfire that swept through the area Thursday, in Paradise, California.
Residents who managed to escape Paradise posted harrowing videos to social media as they drove through tunnels of swirling smoke and orange flames to outrun the wildfire in the Butte County town, north of Sacramento.
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The Woolsey Fire broke out about 2:25 p.m. Thursday near the Rocketdyne facility, south of Simi Valley, pushed by strong Santa Ana winds, which have been preventing fire commanders from ordering aerial assaults. That fire grew more than 20-fold in about six hours just before it overtook the town of Paradise, home to about 27,000 people.
Evacuation orders included the entire city of Malibu, which is home to 13,000, among them some of Hollywood's biggest stars. Another fire was burning farther west in Ventura County, also moving toward the ocean. So you take it personally and we haven't really had time to reflect.
The freeway was closed in both directions near the Liberty Canyon Road exit due to "very active fire conditions", authorities said. It was unclear how many homes have been evacuated within the City of Los Angeles. It has forced evacuations at Naval Air Station Point Mugu and at California State University, Channel Islands, along with several communities near the southern Ventura coastline. There was alarm among some residents who anxious smoke created near the hazardous site could prove particularly risky, but authorities from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control who oversee the site say there is no evidence that smoke from the area around the SSFL is any more unsafe than other wildfire smoke.
"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation", Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean said late Thursday. "It was the event we have feared for a long time", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a Friday evening press conference.
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At least nine people have died as the fierce California wildfires continue.
In addition to those found dead in their vehicles, many people in Paradise were forced to abandon their cars, which got stuck in gridlocked traffic, and run for their lives.
An undetermined number of civilians and firefighters have been injured, and Maclean said earlier it could take days to determine the number of fatalities. The she reconsidered, thinking: "I'm really scared, this is terrifying, I can't breathe, I can't see and maybe I should humble myself and get in this woman's vehicle". According to Ventura County Fire Department, the county and Los Angeles County have been evacuated or are being evacuated of 148,000 residents. The message I want to get out is: "If you can evacuate, you need to evacuate".
"Things started exploding", said resident Gina Oviedo.
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Kim Kardashian, Alyssa Milano and Melissa Etheridge were among thousands fleeing from their homes.