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California wildfires destroy thousands of structures and force emergency evacuations

California wildfires destroy thousands of structures and force emergency evacuations

The fire in Southern California was being whipped up Thursday evening by powerful winds that pushed it through canyons and to the edge of Camarillo Springs and Cal State Channel Islands, both of which were evacuated, The Los Angeles Times reported.

California is experiencing one of its worst fire years ever, with 621,743 acres burned through Sunday in areas covered by Cal Fire, almost twice the amount during the same period of 2017 and almost triple the five-year average. People in some neighborhoods have been told to get out. "My hometown of Paradise is on fire".

Amid the chaotic spread of the Camp Fire in Butte County, which devastated the town of Paradise, scores of users took to social media Thursday and Friday to report missing family members and friends who live in the area.

A separate massive blaze raging in Northern California since Thursday morning has almost quadrupled in size overnight, according to one Californian fire official. The Ventura County Fire Department ordered the evacuation of some communities in the path of the fire, which erupted a few miles from the site of Wednesday night's deadly mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar.

The Camp Fire, which started early on Thursday near Camp Creek, has been fuelled by strong winds and dry forest.

Officials have recovered the remains of five people from vehicles that were "overcome by" the raging fire in Butte County, the sheriff's department there announced on Friday morning.

Scott McLean, a spokesman for Cal Fire, said the fire in Northern California's Butte County has "destroyed the town". Smoke from the flames has spread throughout Northern California.

The two fires burning just northwest of Los Angeles were zero per cent contained, and mandatory evacuations were in place for L.A. County and Ventura County.

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Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter said he was on a bulldozer that pushed cars out of the way Thursday to get to the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in the town of Paradise.

Officials were sending as many firefighters as they could, Cal Fire spokesperson Rick Carhart said.

Fire officials were working on a plan to rescue patients from a hospital after officials tried to evacuate them but had to turn back because of gridlocked traffic.

Laura Anthony witnessed the fire whirl, a whirlwind caused by fire and consisting of flame or ash, on the outskirts of Paradise on Thursday.

The blaze, known as the Woolsey Fire, is spreading south, has jumped a major highway and is now threatening coastal areas including parts of Malibu.

"Fire crews asking for buses to get them out", he reported.

Google Maps continues to update its 2018 California fire map on the various blazes, as well as a Google Crisis Map with information about specific California wildfires including the Camp Fire. He said he did not know the number of injuries or how many structures were destroyed.

Fire officials anticipate the fire would reach the Pacific Ocean.