‘Wiped Out’: Wildfires Rage Across California, Destroy An Entire Town

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Massive wildfires are raging across California, burning through thousands of acres of land and forcing thousands to flee their homes.

In northern California, the Camp Fire all but “wiped out” the town of Paradise, according to fire officials. The town of 27,000 people has seen thousands of buildings go up in flames, whipped up by Santa Ana winds.

“Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it’s that kind of devastation,” Cal Fire Captain Scott McLean told local reporters on Thursday night. “The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out.”

Firefighters have been unable to contain the Camp Fire, which has burned more than 20,000 in the last 24 hours. Powerful Santa Ana winds fueled the Camp Fire’s spread. The fire was first sighted early Thursday morning but has rapidly spread.

“Things started exploding,” resident Gina Oviedo said of the fire. “People started getting out of their vehicles and running.”

The Santa Ana winds bring dry air in from the east, typically late in the year, and create the conditions for fires to spread. California has seen its two largest wildfires on record in the last two years, the biggest being the Mendocino Complex Fire that engulfed more than 283,000 acres in August.

“With most of Southern California in a severe drought, these strong winds will result in a high fire danger as well as power outages and downed trees,” warned AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyson Hoegg said on Tuesday when Santa Ana winds were forecast.

Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued an emergency declaration in Butte County as the fire raged.

Moving south, two massive fires continue to rage across Ventura County. The Woolsey Fire reached 8,000 acres as of Friday morning, according to Cal Fire. Residents south of the 101 Freeway in the Hidden Hills area were evacuated. (RELATED: Headline-Grabbing Global Warming Study Suffers From A Major Math Error)

Buzzfeed News reporter Brianna Sacks captured footage of the massive blaze as it descended on homes Thursday night. High winds fanned the flames across hills and through neighborhoods, igniting cars and homes alike.

By Friday morning, Sacks reported that at least 30,000 residents had been evacuated as the Woolsey fire spread. Firefighters have been unable to contain the blaze in the drought-stricken area.

The nearby Hill Fire has scorched 10,000 acres in the Santa Rosa Valley, according to fire officials. Firefighters have been unable to contain the blaze.

The National Weather Service forecasts strong Santa Ana wind conditions through the morning, with gusts as high as 70 miles per hour expected in the mountains and up to 50 miles per hour expected in the coasts and valleys.

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