Wildfire destroys thousands of buildings in California town

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The Camp Fire has killed at least five people and destroyed 2,000 buildings in the Northern California city of Paradise.

In Southern California, strong Santa Ana winds were fanning two fires, including the Woolsey Fire, which by Friday morning had burned across United States 101 and was heading in the direction of Malibu.

In less than 24 hours, the Camp Fire had torched over 31 square miles, or 20,000 acres, turning escape routes around the town of Paradise into tunnels of fire as the entire community of 27,000 residents were ordered to evacuate. One of them is just 5 per cent contained.

"I don't have all of the details because we have investigators out on the field attempting to get to those locations" where the casualties were reported, Honea said at a press conference.

Mr Murphy said firefighters were able to stop the fire at the edge of the city, where evacuation orders remain in place. "The south side as well as the north side has been hit very hard as well". She and her husband grabbed their dog, jumped in their pickup truck and drove through flames before getting to safety, she said.

'It's devastating. It's like "welcome to hell,"' resident Cynthia Ball said about the dual disasters while she was outside the teenage centre serving as a shelter for evacuees. "It was chaos. I couldn't believe what people were doing".

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"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation", Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean told KTVU on Friday.

The National Weather Service issued red-flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through the evening.

In total, there are now 14 wildfires blazing in California and acting governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency. That's equal to about 60 football fields per minute.

San Luis Obispo County residents traveling south on Friday into Ventura County and Los Angeles should use caution and be prepared for delays and detours caused by two wildfires that have closed parts of Highway 101 and prompted evacuations.

The fire in Paradise was reported shortly after daybreak in a rural area.

Three fast-moving wildfires burned in California on Friday morning, including one that spurred the evacuation of 75 000 homes near a city that was still reeling from a mass shooting.

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The Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeted that the fire raging through the Santa Monica Mountains was headed to the ocean.

The responding fire agencies from Ventura and Los Angeles Counties also consulted independent hazardous materials coordinators who agreed with the conclusion that toxic material from the site was unlikely to have been spread due to the fire.

In Southern California, two separate fires have consumed about 18,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

More than 250,000 people have been evacuated across the areas.

A nurse called Rita Miller on Thursday morning, telling her she had to get her disabled mother, who lives a few blocks away, and flee Paradise immediately. "Just landed back home and had one hour to pack up and evacuate our home".

Another resident told Jeremy Siegel of member station KQED that as she attempted to get out of the area, "we were engulfed in flames - both sides of the road".

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