California Wildfire Kills 5, More Than 150,000 Evacuated

The Camp Fire in Northern California has left at least five people dead and led to more than 150,000 evacuations.

The fire forced residents from Paradise, about 80 miles north of Sacramento, to flee the town, reports CNN Thursday. At least five people were found dead. According to the Butte Country Sheriff, their bodies were found in vehicles overcome by the fire.

According to The Washington Post, there have been other deaths reported in the fire zone, but have not yet been confirmed.

California Fire officials said the fire has burned 70,000 acres through Friday morning, with only five percent contained. An estimated 2,000 structures have been destroyed.

Paradise has about 27,000 residents and most of the community was destroyed, Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean said Thursday.

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it’s that kind of devastation,” McLean told the Associated Press. “The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out.”

Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read also said two firefighters and several residents were injured.

“It’s a very dangerous and very serious situation,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said of the Camp Fire. “I’m driving through fire as we speak. We’re doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas.”

Marc Kessler, a teacher, told The Washington Post the sky turned black and the fire moved faster than expected because of the winds.

“The sky turned black; you couldn’t tell it was daytime,” Kessler told The Washington Post. “It was raining black pieces of soot, coming down like a black snowstorm and starting fires everywhere... Within minutes, the town was engulfed.”

Rick Prinzis, the varsity football coach at Paradise High School, told the Post that many of his players have lost their homes.

“A lot of kids lost their homes, and a lot of them are scattered around right now, but we’ve heard from everybody,” Prinzis said. “I know three of my coaches lost their homes, and I know whole neighborhoods burned. I am assuming I lost my home.”

“Every engine that we could put on the fire is on the fire right now, and more are coming,” Cal Fire spokesman Rick Carhart said, reports the AP. “There are dozens of strike teams that we’re bringing in from all parts of the state.”

Other communities in the area that were evacuated include Magalia, Pulga, Concow, Butte Valley and Butte Creek Canyon. Authorities are afraid the fire could reach Chico, where 90,000 people live and many have already been evacuated to shelters.

Two other wildfires are leaving businesses and homes devastated in Southern California. The Woolsey Fire forced the evacuation of Malibu and other parts of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. The Hill Fire has burning near Thousand Oaks. Both fires are being fueled by the Santa Ana Winds.

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California Acting Governor Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation on Friday, asking for assistance from President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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