Thousands evacuate as wildfires grow in California

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McLean estimated that the lost buildings numbered in the thousands in Paradise, about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco.

The wildfire was reported at 6:30 a.m., Rick Carhart, a Cal Fire spokesman, said.

Firefighters battle the Camp Fire as it tears through Paradise, Calif., on Thursday.

Captain Scott McLean, from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the Camp Fire had grown to almost 110 square miles after devouring the town of Paradise.

Much of the downtown was destroyed.

TV personality Adrienne Janic said on Twitter that firefighters were using her home as a command centre.

The fire has burned 20,000 acres and is not contained.

Weather forecasts showed numerous red flag warnings and wind alerts in the area Thursday into Friday. Many residents who fled their homes didn't get very far very fast, as traffic was snarled on the gridlocked roads leading out of town. "We're doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas".

Raging fires can be seen burning through the terrain on both sides of the road during Chatfield's distressing drive, and a passenger in the vehicle can be heard saying a prayer for safety.

The stranger ended up helping Miller pack up her mother and taking them to safety in Chico.

The town of Chico, population 93,000, could be next in the path of the wildfire, as flames were driven westward by 35-mile-per hour (56 km-per-hour) winds, said Butte County Fire Chief Darren Read.

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He confirmed reports that evacuees had to abandon their vehicles as they fled the scene. They said there is room at the Oroville Nazarene Church and the Butte County Fairgrounds.

Barker said he was briefly trapped by fire while trying to get people out, with flames across the road in front of him and behind him.

"I'm on the phone crying, talking to my husband, just hoping I can get out of there", she said.

On Thursday afternoon, California fire officials said the fire had expanded to about 18,000 acres, but its true size is hard to pinpoint because of heavy smoke, which can be seen from miles away.

The strong winds seen in the Bay Area also pose a danger by enabling the spread of fire, according to May. Evacuation zones were posted on Cal Fire's website.

Crews and firefighting aircraft are responding from all over Northern California.

West of Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire has jumped a major highway and is now threatening coastal areas, including parts of Malibu.

More than 40,000 people were ordered to evacuate on November 8 when a fire tore through Paradise, California, according to reports.

On Friday, Newsom also declared a state of emergency for the raging fires also ravaging Ventura County near Los Angeles as well.

The two fires, the Woolsey and the Hill fires, had caused the evacuated of 105,000 in Southern California, Cal OES said.