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Nine dead in California wildfires, tens of thousands forced to flee

10 November 2018

The fire near the Northern California town of Paradise has grown to almost 110 square miles.

"There's nothing much left standing", said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesman Scott Maclean.

Meanwhile, another wildfire in southern California was threatening 75,000 homes and more than 200,000 people were under mandatory evacuation early on Saturday.

The flames destroyed hundreds of homes, a hospital, a gas station, several restaurants and numerous vehicles in Paradise, officials said.

The burned out hulks of cars abandoned by their drivers sit along a road, November 9, 2018, in Paradise, Calif.

A row of burned vehicles are seen on Skyway during the Camp Fire in Paradise. The Hill Fire caused an evacuation of Cal State University-Channel Islands and about 1,000 homes. There was alarm among some residents who anxious smoke created near the hazardous site could prove particularly risky, but authorities from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control who oversee the site say there is no evidence that smoke from the area around the SSFL is any more unsafe than other wildfire smoke. Espy said firefighters were creating "water curtains" between the homes and would remain on-scene until the threat was contained.

More than 2,200 firefighters were battling the blaze, backed up by helicopters and water tankers.

In less than two days, the Hill and Woolsey fires had destroyed more than 150 homes and prompted evacuation orders for more than 250,000 people, fire officials said. The Butte County Sheriff's Office confirmed Friday at least five people have died. "And it moved very, very quickly from a rather remote area to populated areas".

"The whole town is burning", Bob Van Camp, a Paradise resident who escaped on his motorbike, told local TV channel Action News Now. "All of it is engulfed in flames right now". "I just had to evacuate my home from the fires". "We're kind of all shaking right now". Evacuation orders were issued for residents of the beachside community of Malibu.

The blaze, which spewed massive plumes of thick black smoke, also threatened parts of the nearby town of Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people earlier this week in a shooting rampage at a college bar, stunning the bucolic Southern California community with a reputation for safety. Another fire was burning farther west in Ventura County, also moving toward the ocean.

Malibu officials initially said the order applied to the entire city but have now defined an area that is approximately the western two-thirds of the community.

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill tweeted that the fire was dangerously close but he's safe. Dozens of other news publications have taken to Twitter to show the harrowing conditions residents are seeing as they flee. The trendy beach resort has about 13,000 residents and 21 miles of gorgeous coastline.

Among them was Kim Curtis, who was searching for her grandmother, who told family at 8 a.m. Thursday that she would flee her Paradise home in her Buick with her cat. "Just landed back home and had one hour to pack up and evacuate our home".

Nine dead in California wildfires, tens of thousands forced to flee