Authorities issued mandatory evacuation orders for more than 50,000 people in the scenic area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, including some residents of Chico, population 93,000, near Paradise.
Thirty-thousand people have been evacuated so far and the number of evacuees is expected to rise as embers push ahead 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.
Overnight, three rapid-moving fires spreading across California have destroyed thousands of structures and forced the evacuation of an estimated 157,000 people.
A lot of the resources assigned to the Hill Fire were transferred to the Woolsey Fire, which became the priority for firefighting efforts with heavy air support and hundreds of personnel working Friday.
No injuries have been reported in either fire. Within six hours, it had grown to more than 69 square kilometres, Gaddie said.
Captain Scott McLean, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also said there was "really no firefight involved", explaining the crews had to give up attacking the flames and turn their attention to helping people get out alive.
In the first official report of fatalities, the Butte County Sheriff tweeted on Friday that investigators had found five dead bodies.
"Everything was ignited by the time I got out of my house, everything was on fire", another person said. "And if you've been told to go, get out of there". Several evacuation centers were set up in nearby towns. 'People started getting out of their vehicles and running'.
Many abandoned their cars and trucks on the side of the road.
"It was absolutely dark", said resident Mike Molloy, who said he made a decision based on the wind to leave Thursday morning, packing only the minimum and joining a sea of other vehicles.
Now known as the Hill Fire, that fast-moving blaze has consumed some 6,000 acres of land.
"Anything to bring more attention to Paradise". She instantly found herself stuck in gridlock.
Four of the hospital's employees were briefly trapped in the basement and rescued by California Highway Patrol officers, Kinney said.
Concerned friends and family posted anxious messages on Twitter and other sites, saying they were looking for loved ones, particularly seniors who lived at retirement homes or alone.
"I'm just so grateful for them", she said. I've linked to both of them and provided descriptions below.
Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Butte County, where the fire was burning about 80 acres per minute at one point, according to UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain. He blamed the fires - still burning in both Northern and Souther California - on "gross mismanagement of the forests".
The fire remains at 5 percent contained.
"The perimeter is now the Pacific Ocean", Richardson said.
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