Tens of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate a fast-moving wildfire that exploded in size Thursday, threatening several Northern California communities and forcing panicked residents to race to help neighbors and drive through walls of flames to escape.
The blaze destroyed an unknown number of structures and injured some civilians, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately known, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. John Gaddie.
As people fled in cars, some abandoned their vehicle.
All of Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, was ordered to evacuate, said Butte County Sheriff's spokeswoman Miranda Bowersox.
The wildfire was reported at 6:30 a.m., Rick Carhart, a Cal Fire spokesman, said. Within roughly six hours, the fire had grown to 26,500 square miles (68,600 square kilometers), said Gaddie.
A hospital and several schools were evacuated as thick grey smoke and ash filled the sky above Paradise and could be seen from miles away.
The Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in Paradise evacuated staff and 41 patients to other hospitals, given its close proximity to the fire, said Jill Kinney, an Adventist Health spokeswoman. She said a group of 20 other patients were initially evacuated but then returned to the facility because of gridlocked traffic.
(i) to check the terms of their licence agreements for use of content outside news programming and that further advice and assistance can be obtained from the AP Archive on: Tel +44 (0) 20 7482 7482 Email: email@example.com
(ii) they should check with the applicable collecting society in their Territory regarding the clearance of any sound recording or performance included within the AP Television News service
(iii) they have editorial responsibility for the use of all and any content included within the AP Television News service and for libel, privacy, compliance and third party rights applicable to their Territory.