Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Heroism, harrowing escapes as fire destroys California town

The Camp Fire scorched 5,000 acres in about three hours officials say The Camp Fire scorched 5,000 acres in about three hours officials say
Steven Clarke | 09 November, 2018, 17:01

The Camp Fire began early Thursday in Paradise, about 90 miles north of Sacramento, burning 20,000 acres and threatening 15,000 structures as it moved west toward Chico Thursday night, according to Cal Fire officials.

Percifield left in his pickup truck for an emergency meeting place in a field outside town, finding himself on an empty road with the fire a swelling inferno on both sides of the road around him. The department said 30,000 people had been evacuated in the area and as many as 30,000 homes were threatened.

Voluntary evacuations of 75,000 homes were called for because of the Woolsey Fire that included parts of Thousand Oaks in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, the site of a mass shooting incident this week in which 12 people were killed. Residents abandoned vehicles and ran from the flames carrying children and pets, officials said. The normally two-way road has been converted to one-way to allow more people to escape.

As they've already done multiple times this year, KRCR-TV in Redding has switched over to full live fire coverage. "There is significant loss of structures, and civilian and firefighter injuries".

The entire town had been evacuated earlier, with traffic backing up throughout the area as residents try to get to safety.

About 3,300 students and staff members from Paradise's 11 schools were evacuated in buses and employees' cars to a center in Chico, Butte County Schools Superintendent Tim Taylor said. "We're doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas".

"We had to drive through flames to make it out safely", she said. "God help us!", Shary Bernacett said.

Others described watching flames consume their property as they evacuated.

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The Chico Fire Department said: "Firefighters continue to actively engage the fire in order to protect life and property".

Among them was Kim Curtis, who was searching for her grandmother, who told family at 8 a.m. today that she would flee her Paradise home in her Buick with her cat.

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation", California fire captain Scott McLean said.

'Every engine that we could put on the fire is on the fire right now, and more are coming, ' he said. It's very surreal. Things always work out, but the unknown is a little scary.

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

At the hospital with the stranded patients, some buildings caught fire and were damaged, but the main facility, Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, was not, spokesperson Jill Kinney said.

Driven by high winds and dry conditions, the blaze dubbed the Camp Fire swept through the town of Paradise.

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