General assignment reporter covering national and breaking news
Eli Rosenberg General assignment reporter covering national and breaking news November 8 at 5:45 PM A destructive and fast-moving wildfire…
A destructive and fast-moving wildfire erupted in Northern California on Thursday morning, spreading rapidly due to a mix or howling winds and extremely dry conditions.
The Camp Fire, in Butte County, north of the state’s capital, Sacramento, had burned through some 18,000 acres as or Thursday evening and was zero percent contained as officials scrambled to evacuate area residents.
Social media were flooded with apocalyptic imagery of smoke-filled skies and horizon lines of neon orange. Others took to Twitter to post messages about missing family members. The town of Paradise, California, population 27,000, has been evacuated, officials told local news reporters, as were the nearby communities of Pulga and Concow.
Colton Percifield, 20, said in a interview that he awoke at friend’s house in Concow to find smoke outside around 7 a.m. Spot fires soon encroached on the house.
“Within half an hour the whole place was in flames,” he said. At 8:20 am, the house was burning.
Percifield left in his pickup truck for an emergency meeting place in a field outside town, finding himself on an empty road with the fire a swelling inferno on both sides of the road around him. A video he took captures the hellacious conditions he described; Heavy smoke and heat surrounding the truck as the temperature rose inside, while giant sparks and flames licked the roof over his head in near pitch-black darkness. At one point, a tree branch fell on his car, smashing his windshield and denting his hood.
Percifield said that he drove off the road a few times in the low visibility conditions but eventually made it to a meadow that is maintained for residents to gather in the event of fires.
According to Sacramento Bee reporter Ryan Lillis, some 60 to 70 people were waiting for an emergency evacuation at a Walgreen’s in Paradise.
“He said that people spoke there about neighbors in Concow who had been unable to escape their homes. Four crews asking for buses to get them out, ” he reported .
Evacuation routes were clogged with people attempting to flee the growing blaze, the Sacramento Bee reported, and first responders expressed concern about whether they could
Many people took to social media to register their distress.
“My mother is trapped with other drivers on Pearson Rd in Paradise with houses burning nearby,” tweeted @ jdpiersoniv .
The National Weather Service had predicted dangerous fire weather conditions in California because of Santa Ana winds, which roar in from the east and accelerate down California’s north-to-south-oriented mountain slopes.
Red flag warnings for “critical fire weather conditions” were in effect not only for the Sacramento Valley but also through Central and Southern California. Wind gusts of 50 mph were expected in many locations.
The gusts blow down the mountain slopes, not only fan flames but also dry the land surface, lowering relative humidity levels to 10 percent – creating tinderbox conditions for the spread of fire.
There were 23.4 million California under red flag warnings Thursday into early Friday, after which the winds should ease and give responders improved conditions for battling the blaze.
California has experienced debilitating fires of unprecedented regularity in the past few years. In August, the Mendocino Complex four became the biggest wildfire ever recorded in the state, eventually burning more than 400,000 acres. Det tidligere rekordet var blevet sat mindre end et år før i en katastrofisk fire, der brændte gennem mere end 280.000 acres i Ventura og Santa Barbara County. In October 2017, some 21 wildfires burned nearly 95,000 acres and 7,000 buildings in Sonoma and Napa counties in the heart of California’s wine country, killing 40 people.