Separate wildfires rip through California, thousands flee

Blanche Robertson
November 10, 2018

"It was absolutely dark", said resident Mike Molloy, who said he made a decision based on the wind to leave Thursday morning, packing only the minimum and joining a sea of other vehicles.

Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Dave Richardson says 45,000 people in Ventura County and 43,000 more in Los Angeles County were ordered to evacuate overnight.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott said Friday firefighters are focused on saving lives and are still rescuing people from fires.

Home owner Will Buckley uses a shovel with dirt to try to stop the flames from from destroying a neighbor's home during the Woosley Fire in Malibu, California, U.S. November 9, 2018.

Pimlott said six major fires are now burning in California, with three (Camp, Woolsey and Hill) designated "critical".

At the hospital with the stranded patients, some buildings caught fire and were damaged, but the main facility, Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, was not, spokesperson Jill Kinney said. One of them is just 5 per cent contained. In a single day, this Sierra Nevada foothill town founded in the 1800s was largely incinerated by flames that moved so fast there was nothing firefighters could do.

"The whole lower side of Paradise is totally engulfed in flames right now", Kevin Winstead, a resident of nearby Magalia, told KIEM TV.

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"There's nothing left standing", said Mr Maclean.

The remains of five of the victims were discovered in or near burned out cars, three outside residences and one inside a home, Honea said. "We're kind of all shaking right now".

The utility company that provides much of California with natural gas and electricity told state regulators Friday that it plans to cooperate with any investigations into the cause of a massive wildfire in the northern part of the state that has killed at least nine people. The Woolsey Fire is burning in both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties in California, and has scorched 14,000 acres.

Wildfires also erupted in Southern California, with reports early Friday of two large fires scorching about 23 square miles (60 square kilometers) and threatening numerous communities. The Woolsey fire, south of Simi Valley, spread to 35,000 acres and is making its way toward the coastal city of Malibu, where a mandatory evacuation was ordered. At one point, the Camp Fire was consuming 80 football fields worth of land per minute, fueled by winds of up to 50 mph. Many homes have propane tanks that were exploding amid the flames.

Conditions in Oak Park, just north of Malibu, have been described as "surreal" and "horrific".

Those who live there have been warned of an "imminent threat" to their safety, with thousands of people being urged to flee however they can.

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