Tens of thousands flee fast-moving Northern California fire

Camp Fire Smoke Smoke from the Camp Fire

A fast-moving wildfire roared through a Northern California town on Thursday, with reports of fatalities as it engulfed dozens of buildings and tens of thousands of people fled the flames, police and state authorities said.

Resident Shari Bernacett told the Associated Press she "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to get mobile home residents in her area to leave as fire consumed the hillside.

The fire forced the evacuation of patients from Paradise's main hospital to hospitals in Oroville and Chico.

'The blaze is being driven by fairly strong winds, ' Carhart said.

The blaze, known as the Camp Fire, is moving at an estimated 80 acres per minute. The smoke reported by residents in Berkeley, however, comes from a fire about 150 miles north in Butte County.

Hospital spokeswoman Jill Kinney said all patients were evacuated. "Once it got going it picked up very rapidly".

Cal Fire said several hundred structures have been been destroyed, but an official count won't be available until they can get into the area. A California fire official says a fast-moving wildfire in Northern California has destroyed structures and injured civilians.

Terrifying videos posted on social media showed cars driving along roads that looked like tunnels of fire with flames on both sides of the road.

'My husband tried his best to get everybody out.

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Residents of Butte County ― and particularly Paradise, California, and its surrounding towns ― have been ordered to evacuate and take shelter in local churches in the neighboring town of Chico.

Morgan Mason said her father told her that he could hear propane tanks blowing up all over Paradise this morning. "God help us!" Bernacett said before breaking down crying. The warning will remain in effect in the area until Friday morning, officials said.

Five people were burned in Paradise, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP).

"We had to drive through flames to make it out safely", she said.

'Every engine that we could put on the fire is on the fire right now, and more are coming, ' he said.

Some of the patients were initially turned around during their evacuation because of gridlocked traffic and later airlifted to other hospitals, along with staff, Kinney said.

Gusty winds and low humidity were among the factors that led to the warning.

Mandatory evacuations are underway in Northern California as the Camp Fire continues to blaze through at least 18,000 acres.

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