A wildfire has destroyed most of a Northern California town of about 27,000 people. At least nine people were killed by the "Camp Fire" in Paradise, authorities said Friday. The victims have not been identified.
Firefighters across the state were battling three major fires that forced a total of 250,000 residents out of their homes, authorities said. Evacuation orders included the entire city of Malibu, which is home to 13,000, among them some of Hollywood's biggest stars.
"There was really no firefight involved," Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said of the blaze near Paradise. He said crews gave up attacking the flames and instead helped people get out alive. "Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed. It's that kind of devastation."
In Southern California, wildfires forced evacuations in Thousand Oaks, a city reeling from a shooting rampage this week that left 12 people dead at a country music bar. Three-quarters of the city were under evacuation orders -- a number that likely includes those affected by massacre, Mayor Andy Fox said.
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3 major fires by the numbers
Firefighters are battling three major wildfires in California. Here's a breakdown by the numbers as of Friday evening, according to Cal Fire and local officials.
The Camp Fire
- Location: Butte County
- 90,000 acres burned
- 5 percent contained
- 35 people reported missing
- 9 fatalities confirmed
- 1,385 people in shelters
- 52,000 have been evacuated
- Location: Ventura County
- 200,000 residents under mandatory evacuation
- 35,000 acres burned
- Zero percent contained
- Location: Ventura County
- About 4,500 acres burned
- 15 percent contained
- Firefighters are making good progress, fire chief remains optimistic
Utility company will cooperate with investigation
The Pacific Gas & Electric Company said it will cooperate with any investigations stemming from the massive wildfire in Northern California. The company told state regulators Thursday that it experienced a problem on an electrical transmission line near the site of the blaze minutes before the fire broke out.
The company said it later observed damage to a transmission tower on the line. Lynsey Paulo, a company spokesperson, said the information was preliminary and stressed the cause of the fire has not been determined.
Death toll rises to 9
At least nine people were killed by the wildfire in Paradise, California, authorities said. The fire has burned 90,000 acres and destroyed more than 6,700 structures.
Three of the victims were found outside homes and four others inside vehicles, Butte County Sheriff Korey Honea said Friday. Another victim was found near outside their vehicle, he said.
Nurse fights flames escaping wildfire
Nurses and patients have recounted their dramatic escapes from a hospital in Paradise that was devastated by a ferocious wildfire. Nurse Darrel Wilken told the Chico Enterprise-Record newspaper that the fire came so quickly that he and other coworkers used their own cars to evacuate patients from the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital.
Wilken said he took three patients in his car and that two of them were in critical condition. He said he battled gridlocked traffic on a road surrounded on both sides by fire.
Cody Knowles said his wife, Francine, was having gallbladder surgery Thursday morning.
When the evacuation was announced, she was still asleep from anesthesia. He waited until she woke up and they escaped in a hospital employee's car. The hospital said it evacuated 60 patients to other facilities.
Wildfire causes "utter panic" as people try to escape
As the fast-moving fire ravaged Northern California, highways were jammed with cars as people desperately tried to escape. One man battled burning ash as he tried to find a way out. He's safe now, but others were forced to abandon their cars and run for their lives.
Five miles north of Paradise, Tisha Aroyo and her grandfather stayed behind. He said he thought he could save her house, but they would only watch helplessly as their home burned.
JT Ford and his wife Stacey went to a nearby pasture, where they watched their home go up in flames. "The fire roared through so quick it was only an hour of utter panic and fear because then everything burned out," Ford said.
Flames have moved so quickly there's not a lot firefighters can do. "That fire from the second it started was off to the races," said Ken Pimlott, director of Cal Fire. "It's all hands on deck to rescue people and get people out of harm's way."
Celebrities forced to evacuate homes
Kim Kardashian West, Alyssa Milano and Rainn Wilson were among the celebrities forced to evacuate their homes.
"Pray for Calabasas. Just landed back home and had 1 hour to pack up & evacuate our home," Kardashian West wrote on Instagram while sharing video of the blaze. "Firefighters are arriving. Thank you for all that you do for us!!!"
Wilson said his house was evacuated due to the fires. He asked for his Twitter followers to pray for residents in Thousand Oaks following the shooting that left 12 people dead, writing that they now forced to deal with the wildfires.
Blaze burns TV set used for "Westworld"
The so-called "Woolsey Fire" has burned a Western-themed television production set in Southern California, according to the National Park Service. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said on Twitter that the wildfire hit Western Town at Paramount Ranch in Agoura.
Western Town was built in the 1950s for television shows, according to the park service. HBO's "Westworld" has been filmed there, ET reports.
A CBS Los Angeles reporter posted pictures to Twitter of burned-down structures on the set. The ranch has also been featured on such shows as CBS' "The Mentalist" and "Weeds," which aired on Showtime, a division of CBS.
Congestion in Southern California evacuation area
A law enforcement official said that there was congestion on roads in an evacuation area near the "Woolsey Fire" in Southern California. Division Chief John Benedict of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told reporters that people were evacuating an area south of the U.S. 101 freeway between Las Virgenes Canyon Road and the line between Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Benedict advised people to travel toward the coast and then east toward Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway to ease the congestion. Benedict urged people evacuating to remember their identification, medication, personal documents and "anything that you might think that you're going to need down the road.
"This thing moves fast, and you need to be prepared, so if you're ready to go, go, and if you're being told to go, get out of there," Benedict said.
Smoke from wildfire pollutes San Francisco air
Authorities issued an unhealthy air quality alert for parts of the San Francisco Bay Area as smoke from the Camp Fire drifts south, polluting the air. The air in San Francisco Friday was hazy and the smell of smoke was overwhelming.
Officials advised older people and children to move physical activities indoors. All people were encouraged to limit their outdoor activities.
Camp Fire nearly quadruples in size
A California fire official said the Camp Fire nearly quadrupled in size overnight. Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the fire near the town of Paradise has grown to 70,000 acres, which is nearly 110 square miles.
Southern California fire forces evacuation of Malibu
The entire city of Malibu was ordered to evacuate Friday morning as the Woolsey Fire roared toward the beachside community that is home for many Hollywood celebrities. A city-wide evacuation was ordered early Friday and then was scaled back, only to be reinstated.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeted that the fire raging through the Santa Monica Mountains was headed to the ocean. Malibu has about 13,000 residents and lies along 21 miles of coast at the southern foot of the mountain range.
"Imminent threat!" the department said in its warning. The erupted Thursday near the northwest corner of the city of Los Angeles as the region's notorious Santa Ana winds gusted, triggering overnight evacuations of an estimated 75,000 homes in western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County.
The fire then pushed southward, jumped the wide U.S. 101 freeway before dawn Friday and pushed into the Santa Monica range. Meanwhile, the so-called "Hill Fire" was burning farther west in Ventura County and was also moving toward the ocean.
"Heavenly father, please help us"
Surrounded by walls of flames whipped by winds of 50 mph, people drove through hell trying to escape, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reports from Paradise. "Heavenly father, please help us," a woman said on a video while driving on a road bookended by flames.
The Camp Fire exploded in intensity, filling the sky with toxic smoke that could be seen from San Francisco, which is nearly 150 miles away. "Everything is burning up around us," a woman said on a video posted to Facebook.
There was very little time for the 27,000 people who live in Paradise to evacuate. "We grabbed our animals and some food and some clothes, and we're getting the heck out of here," Kevin Winstead of Paradise told CBS Chico affiliate KHSL-TV.