Where Is Paradise, California? Camp Fire Rages, Evacuations Expand in Latest Updates

Less than 24 hours after the Camp Fire began in Northern California, residents of one city have fled the wildfire by the thousands.

Mandatory evacuations were issued for residents of Paradise, California after the wildfire engulfed more than 18,000 acres in seven hours on Thursday.

Paradise is located about 85 miles north of Sacramento with a population of 27,000.

According to CNN, the fire is moving at a rate of 80 football fields per minute.

Patients from the city’s hospital moved to nearby Orville and Chico while administrators, staff and teachers from Paradise’s 11 schools evacuated children by driving the students out on buses and, in some instances, employee’s cars, CNN reported. 

The Associated Press reported that tens of thousands of residents in the area had fled, some even evacuating on foot after being stuck in gridlocked traffic as the fire raged out of control and moved closer to the town.

“The whole town’s on fire. It’s pretty grim,” Scott Lotter, a town councilman who evacuated with his family, told The Sacramento Bee.

Lotter also told The Sacramento Bee that much of the city’s downtown sector was gone and that he had seen multiple homes burning near the Skyway, Paradise's main commercial corridor.

Butte County Cal Fire Chief Darren Read said in an afternoon press conference that there were reports of hundreds of structures destroyed in the town, but that firefighters had not been able to assess the extent of the damage.

About 500 firefighters and 100 other law enforcement officers were working to fight the blaze, with Cal Fire putting out a call for assistance from other fire departments, CNN said.

Multiple reports stated that several firefighters had been injured, as well as multiple residents. No reports of deaths from the fire have been confirmed.

Paradise and the surrounding area remains under a red flag warning, indicating that conditions are ripe for wildfires as wind whips across a dry terrain between 20 to 40 mph. Some gusts on Thursday were reported to reach 65 mph, Weather Underground said.

The area has also received significantly less rain than average this Autumn, with Paradise totaling just 0.14” since Oct. 1. On average, the city sees 4.49 inches from Oct. 1 to Nov. 7

It could be a week or more before the area receives any chance of rain to help ease the fire, Weather Underground said.

During Thursday’s press conference Cal Fire officials said they had on control over the fire and that it could reach Chico, a town located 15 miles east of Paradise with a population of over 93,000.

“Right now, Mother Nature is in charge,” Cal Fire spokesman Bryce Bennett said to The Sacramento Bee. 

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