California wildfires: More than 150,000 flee two blazes

Firefighters in Thousand OaksImage copyright
Reuters

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The Woolsey Fire destroyed homes overnight in Thousand Oaks

More than 150,000 people have been evacuated as two big wildfires rage in California, with one having caused a number of deaths, officials say.

West of Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire has jumped a major highway and is now threatening coastal areas, including parts of Malibu.

Further north near Sacramento, the Camp Fire has led to deaths and injuries and destroyed a town.

Both fires are moving fast, fanned by strong winds.

Where is the Woolsey Fire spreading to?

The blaze has spread rapidly overnight, fanned by strong winds, and has jumped Highway 101, a major route west of Los Angeles.

The flames are now threatening coastal areas further south, fire officials said.

The fire broke out near Thousand Oaks, an area about 40 miles (64 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles where an attacker killed 12 people on Wednesday, prompting the evacuation of 75,000 homes.

Residents have now been ordered to evacuate from several more towns to the west of Thousand Oaks, including Calabasas immediately south of Highway 101 and Malibu on the coast, as well as from the western edge of Los Angeles.

Calabasas and Malibu are home to numerous celebrities and some have been posting on social media, including reality TV star Kim Kardashian. On Instagram she urged people to “pray for Calabasas”. “Just landed back home and had one hour to pack up and evacuate our home. I pray everyone is safe,” she wrote.

Her husband, the rapper Kanye West, said their family was “safe and close”.

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Smoke to the west of Los Angeles could be seen from the city’s Hollywood area on Friday

What is happening in northern California?

The 20,000 acre (8,100 hectare) Camp Fire, which started on Thursday near Camp Creek, is being driven west by 35 mph (56 kmh) winds, fire officials said.

It has caused an unknown number of deaths and there are also injuries, California emergency official Mark Ghilarducci told reporters.

Media captionThe Camp Fire has been fuelled by strong winds and dry forest

Fire officials have issued evacuation notices for parts of Chico, a town of 93,000 people north of Sacramento.

Earlier, the fire devastated the town of Paradise in the Sierra foothills, home to 26,000 people.

“There’s nothing left standing,” said Scott Maclean, the state’s forestry and fire protection spokesman.

Image copyright
AFP

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The town of Paradise was destroyed, officials said

Thousands were evacuated, including from schools and hospitals.

Accidents gridlocked routes out of Paradise and residents abandoned their cars and fled on foot carrying children and pets, Reuters quoted local officials as saying.

Image copyright
AFP/Getty

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Patients were evacuated from a hospital in Paradise that later burned down

Rescuers used a bulldozer to push abandoned cars out of the way in order to reach a hospital and evacuate patients as the fire engulfed the building, Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter said.

The two blazes are among 16 currently active fires in California. Officials have put most of Northern California under a Red Flag Warning, which means “extreme fire behaviour” can occur within 24 hours.

The region has grappled with serious wildfires – including the worst in the state’s history, the Mendocino and Thomas fires – on and off since 2017.


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California wildfires: More than 150,000 flee two blazes

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