Northern California Wildfire Destroys Hundreds of Buildings

FIRE PIC 1 CAL FIRE BUTTEcredit Cal Fire Butte County

Pacific Gas & Electric, the state's largest utility, announced Tuesday it might preemptively cut power to eight California counties starting Thursday morning to prevent a possible wildfire, including Butte County where the Camp Fire is located.

The massive plume from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., wafts over the Sacramento Valley as seen from Chico, Calif., on Thursday.

Butte County Sherriff Kory Honea told the Chico Enterprise-Record that "it's bad".

Some of the patients were initially turned around during their evacuation because of gridlocked traffic and later airlifted to other hospitals, along with staff, Kinney said. The Butte County Sheriff's Office has issued mandatory evacuation orders for most residents of Paradise and the smaller communities of Concow and Pulga. The fire destroyed about 1,000 structures in Paradise, including a church and some buildings at a local hospital, according to Cal Fire and interviews with residents.

A vintage vehicle rests among debris as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise.

Videos and photos on social media show thick, opaque smoke wafting over the ridges toward town.

Evacuated hospital patients are being taken to hospitals throughout the region. It's very surreal. Things always work out, but the unknown is a little scary.

Morgan Mason said her father told her that he could hear propane tanks blowing up all over Paradise this morning.

Shari Bernacett said her husband tried to get people to leave the Paradise mobile home park they manage and had minutes to evacuate.

Groups of fleeing residents gathered in a Kmart parking lot in Paradise, with their dogs and some with horses, waiting to be evacuated, said Shelley Freeman who spoke to a relative and friends in Paradise.

The fire forced the evacuation of patients from Paradise's main hospital to hospitals in Oroville and Chico.

Officials said the blaze has consumed more than 26 square miles so far.

Officials were sending as many crews as they could gather, Carhart said.

Five people were burned in Paradise, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP). Cal Fire said dozens of resources have been called in from elsewhere in the state, as firefighters work to contain the quick-moving blaze.

'Every engine that we could put on the fire is on the fire right now, and more are coming, ' he said.

Officials issued a "red flag" warning for the area because winds had reached between 20 and 40 miles-per-hour.

The "Camp Fire" - as named by local officials - is expected to grow because of high winds and current dry conditions in the area.

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