California wildfire leaves town in ruins as nearly quadruples in size

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Evacuation orders were issued for residents of Malibu.

"We were engulfed in flames", Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter said.

"The whole town is burning", Bob Van Camp, a resident who escaped on his motorbike, told local TV channel Action News Now. Witnesses reported seeing homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement home up in flames.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. John Gaddie said crews were still focused Thursday on helping people get out of the town of Paradise.

California Highway Patrol announced Thursday afternoon it had closed several roads in the area, including Skyway Road, which is the northerly passage out of town, and Highway 70 to the south of the fire.

The blaze began early on Thursday and quickly charred 18,000 acres (3,237 hectares), forcing the evacuation of the 27,000 residents of Paradise, about 85 miles (240 km) north of Sacramento, Cal Fire said in a statement. At least two firefighters have been injured and multiple civilians injured, but number aren't available yet, Butte County Fire Battalion Chief Bill Reid said Thursday.

"I can't think of an area that's safe right now", Lt. Al Smith of the Butte County Sheriff's Office told the San Francisco Chronicle.

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

Maj. Gen. David Baldwin says other military personnel are studying satellite imagery to assess the scope of the damage and map the fire. "People were abandoning their cars and running with their babies and kids".

The occupants of the auto eventually make it out of the harrowing tunnel of fire uninjured. Reinbold said Thursday he lives in the middle of town and doesn't know if his house is standing.

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The Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif., on November 8, 2018.

Thick gray smoke and ash filled the sky above Paradise and could be seen from miles away.

McLean said the burned out hulks of cars littered the roads in Paradise, requiring front-end loaders to clear out the roads. "God help us!", Shary Bernacett said.

Paradise, located on a ridge, has limited escape routes. People posted photos on Twitter of missing seniors.

A Cal Fire helicopter picks up water from a reservoir while battling the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 8, 2018. "The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out".

"We're talking devastated", McLean said. "They do have a auto, but they both are older and can be confused at times".

"Firefighters continue to be challenged with extreme fire and weather conditions including strong winds and with long range spotting", Cal Fire wrote on their website Thursday.

The blaze broke out in the Hill Canyon area and in just 12 minutes jumped the 101 Freeway. In August, the Mendocino Complex fire became the largest wildfire ever recorded in the state, eventually burning more than 400,000 acres.

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 auto can be heard saying a prayer for safety.

More than 157,000 people across the state have been forced to flee their homes as the fires close in on residential areas, putting more lives in danger.

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