Tens of thousands flee fast-moving Northern California fire

Thousands evacuated over fast-moving California wildfire

Drift Smoke from Butte County Fire Enters Contra Costa County

However, on Thursday the place is very far from paradise: a rapidly growing wildfire encompassing 6,000 acres is closing in on the town, forcing its residents to drop everything and evacuate, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

A Southern California university is being evacuated due to a fast-growing wildfire that has shrouded the school in smoke.

The Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday.

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. "I don't know. When I left it was all on fire".

With ash falling and the sky darkening to a menacing shade of black, evacuees from Paradise sat in stunned silence today outside a Chico church where they took refuge the night before. But at nearly every intersection, she said, there was an informed official directing traffic and reassuring those in the evacuation gridlock they would be safe.

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Fire ripped through residential areas and flames leapt from hospitals and schools, according to a Reuters witness, who saw a auto dealership go up in flames on a street clogged with burned out vehicles and an abandoned police cruiser. "We had to drive through flames to make it out safely", Hall told CNN via Instagram. "Please keep Paradise and all the first responders in your prayers".

At the moment the fire is in Butte county, powering through Paradise City and under watch from the Paradise Police Department.

Officials were sending as many firefighters as they could, Cal Fire spokesman Rick Carhart said.

Cinders crawled along the ground and up trees as she fled with her mother and grandmother.

But this time, Musgrave said, she felt there was a measure of control.

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The fast-moving wildfire began early Thursday morning in the town of Paradise, Calif., a population of 27,000, and has burned through 18,000 acres. It threatened thousands of homes and prompted evacuations of a mobile home park, a state university campus and some neighbourhoods.

The California Highway Patrol shut down Highway 99, a major north-south thoroughfare, advising people to avoid the area. "The message I want to get out is if you can evacuate, you need to evacuate", Honea said. Right now, 500 firefighters are working to put out the conflagration, with support from 100 other law enforcement officials.

Gaddie said he was aware of four or five injuries, but no deaths.

Jones said much of Paradise's business district was gone. A temporary refuge has been created in a Walgreens to house people until they can leave for a safer area.

The gusts blowing down the mountain slopes not only fan flames but also dry out the land surface, lowering relative humidity levels to 10 percent - creating tinderbox conditions for the spread of fire.

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According to Sacramento Bee reporter Ryan Lillis, some 60 to 70 people were awaiting an emergency evacuation at a Walgreen's in Paradise.

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