'God help us!' Pair of California wildfires, spurred by high win


Nine people have died in raging fires in California where 150,000 people have evacuated their homes.

Butte County Fire Chief Darren Read said there were multiple injuries among civilians and firefighters.

Many are searching for seniors who lived alone or at retirement homes.

The fire remains at 5 percent contained. "The fire is being kept south of Highway 32", according to a tweet from the university just before 4:30 a.m. Friday.

"A lot of kids lost their home and a lot of them are scattered around right now, but we've heard from everybody", Paradise head coach Rick Prinz told MaxPreps.

The sheriff's office said the victims were found near the town of Paradise, which was destroyed by a blaze that forced thousands of residents to flee as it rapidly approached the outskirts of the city of Chico early Friday. The flames moved so fast that some had to abandon their cars and escape the town on foot.

"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.

Firefighters said that "pretty much all of the community", which is 180 miles north-east of San Francisco, had been destroyed. Several evacuation centers were set up in nearby towns. Around the same time, flames appeared south of Chico, jumping across Highway 99 and burning on both sides of the road.

Retired engineer Duane D'Amico and his dog narrowly escaped the oncoming flames. "The message I want to get out is if you can evacuate, you need to evacuate", Honea said.

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Mark Ghilarducci said the number of deaths was not known.

"I beat it", he said of his lymphoma.

Resident Shari Bernacett told the Associated Press that she "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to get mobile home residents to leave as fire consumed the hillside. "I don't know. When I left it was all on fire".

The blaze burned Western Town at Paramount Ranch, according to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service. Officials have put most of Northern California is under a Red Flag Warning, which means "extreme fire behaviour" can occur within 24 hours.

The L.A. Times reported that a total of 75,000 homes in both Ventura and Los Angeles counties are now under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, including Westlake Village and parts of Calabasas, where numerous entertainers including Alyssa Milano and Kim Kardashian have lavish homes. In Malibu - which has been home to Hollywood stars including Tom Hanks and Dustin Hoffman - flames leaped over the US 101 freeway to threaten some of the city's wealthiest neighborhoods. The conditions there are bone dry and erratic winds with speeds ranging from 20 to 55 miles per hour are rapidly fanning the flames.

Bass evacuated his family from Paradise and returned to the fire to help rescue several disabled residents, including a man trying to carry his bedridden wife to safety.

By 8 a.m. Thursday morning, Paradise resident Tanah Clunies-Ross said she could not see her auto from her front door through the cloud of smoke.

Parts of the city have been evacuated, as firefighters struggle to contain the inferno at the city limits.