Guardian staff and agencies
Fri 9 Nov 2018 16.08 GMT
- Wildfire in northern California town grows to 110 square miles
- In southern California, Malibu forced to evacuate ahead of blaze
Five people were found dead in their burned-out vehicles after a northern California wildfire incinerated most of a town of about 30,000 people with flames that moved so fast there was nothing firefighters could do, authorities said Friday.
Only a day after it began, the blaze near the town of Paradise had grown to nearly 110 square miles and was burning completely out of control.
“There was really no firefight involved,” Capt Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said, explaining that crews gave up attacking the flames and instead helped people get out alive. “These firefighters were in the rescue mode all day yesterday.”
With fires also burning in Southern California , state officials put the total number of people forced from their homes at 157,000. Evacuation orders included the entire city of Malibu, which is home to 13,000, among them some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
Meanwhile, Thousand Oaks, reeling from the tragedy of a mass shooting was under a siege of a different sort Friday as raging wildfires on both sides of the city forced evacuations and shut down part of the main freeway through town.
Flames driven by powerful winds torched dozens of hillside homes in Southern California, burning parts of tony Calabasas and mansions in Malibu and forcing tens of thousands of people including some celebrities to flee as the fire marched across the Santa Monica mountains toward the sea. The cause of the blazes was not known.
In Northern California, when Paradise was evacuated, the order set off a desperate exodus in which many motorists got stuck in gridlocked traffic and abandoned their vehicles to flee on foot. People reported seeing much of the community go up in flames, including homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement centre.