Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday in northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town and destroyed hundreds of structures, the AP reports. "Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation," said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late Thursday. "The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out." McLean estimated that a couple of thousand structures were destroyed in the town of 27,000 residents about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco. The blaze is being called the "Camp Fire."
The extent of the injuries and specific damage count was not immediately known as officials could not access the dangerous area. Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read said at a news conference that two firefighters and multiple residents were injured. As she fled, Gina Oviedo described a devastating scene in which flames engulfed homes, sparked explosions and toppled utility poles. "Things started exploding," Oviedo said. "People started getting out of their vehicles and running." Concerned friends and family posted frantic messages on Twitter and other sites saying they were looking for loved ones, particularly seniors who lived at retirement homes or alone. Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the fire-stricken area.
(Read more California wildfires