Nine dead in California's 'most destructive wildfire in a century'

Evacuations ordered in Northern California as fast-moving wildfire spreads

A massive plume of smoke from the Camp Fire wafts over the Sacramento Valley as seen from Chico

Nine people were declared dead and tens of thousands evacuated Friday as fierce wildfires raged across the western USA state of California, with one rapidly spreading blaze threatening the famed resort of Malibu.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott said Friday firefighters are focused on saving lives and are still rescuing people from fires.

With fires also burning in Southern California, state officials put the total number of people forced from their homes at more than 200,000.

Among the celebrity homes reportedly damaged - if not destroyed - was the home of Caitlyn Jenner, who posted an Instagram video reporting that she was in a safe house, but wasn't sure what has become of her home.

"Had he not put out that fire, I would not have made it to the vehicle", she said.

The flames descended on Paradise so quickly that many people were forced to abandon their cars and run for their lives down the sole road through the mountain town.

Since the fire ignited, at least nine people have been confirmed dead, almost 6,500 homes and 90,000 acres have burned and about 30,000 residents have evacuated, media reports said.

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With a blaze in Butte County reddening the Berkeley skies and a fire in Oakland prompting full response from its fire department, Berkeley Fire Department is sending engines for support.

- 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. Today, it mushroomed to 70,000 acres and apparently is still growing as fire officials report 0 percent containment.

In Southern California, Santa Ana winds gusting at 50-70 miles per hour in Ventura and Los Angeles counties are expected to ease Saturday.

"There are many hazards in areas where fatalities have been reported", the Butte County Sheriff's Department said in a statement, warning that they expect to find additional victims.

Wildfires also erupted in Southern California, with reports early Friday of two large fires scorching about 23 square miles (60 square kilometers) and threatening numerous communities.

"Not one home will be left standing", he said.

Flames from the unchecked, 20,000-acre (8,100-hectare) Camp Fire were being driven westward by 35-mile-per hour (56 km-per-hour) winds, fire officials said.

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"I feel very vulnerable posting this, but I feel I should", she wrote in the post.

Her husband, the rapper Kanye West, said their family was "safe".

Queues to leave the city have resulted in traffic jams and gridlock, which has led people to leave cars abandoned on roads as they rush to safety.

Residents are now using social media to search for missing friends and family members.

The wind-driven flames also spread to the west and reached the edge of Chico, a city of 90,000 people.

"It's very chaotic. It's a very bad fire", Officer Ryan Lambert of the California Highway Patrol said of the evacuation.

The three blazes are among 16 now active fires in California. The message I want to get out is: "If you can evacuate, you need to evacuate", he said.

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