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Massive California fires destroy town, Malibu ordered to evacuate

Massive California fires destroy town, Malibu ordered to evacuate

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.

Only a day after it began, the blaze near the town of Paradise had grown to almost 110 square miles (280 square kilometers) and was burning completely out of control.

Officials were sending as many firefighters as they could, Cal Fire spokesman Rick Carhart said. During the height of the blaze, firefighters completely surrendered firefighting duties in order to focus on rescuing people.

"This fire did move through the town of Paradise quickly", Paradise Police Chief Eric Reinbold told the local Enterprise-Record newspaper.

Homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement home went up in flames in Paradise, according to The Associated Press.

Thirty-thousand people have been evacuated so far and the number of evacuees is expected to rise as embers push ahead of the fire. "We were driving through fire on each side of the road", police officer Mark Bass said.

Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the fire-stricken area in Northern California and requested a presidential disaster declaration, saying that risky weather conditions were expected to last several days.

Almost 30,000 people were forced to evacuate on Thursday when a wildfire roared through this California town, located about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco.

The wind-driven flames also spread to the west and reached Chico, a city of 90,000 people.

Evacuation orders were sent out for the communities of Paradise, Magalia, Concow, Butte Creek Canyon, and Butte Valley.

The winds calmed down in the valley, but they were still shifting and erratic, with speeds of up to 45 miles per hour along ridge tops, he said.

He headed for an emergency shelter on the outskirts of the town in his pickup truck, but as he hit an empty road he was surrounded by a huge tower of fire and a towering inferno on both sides of the road.

McLean estimated that a couple of thousand structures were destroyed in the town of 27,000 residents about 180 miles (290 kilometres) northeast of San Francisco, where residents scrambled to flee. "It's that kind of devastation", he said.

About two-thirds of the city of Malibu was ordered evacuated early Friday as a ferocious Southern California's wildfire roared toward the beachside community that is home for many Hollywood celebrities.

A wildfire came down from a hilltop, Thursday, near Newbury Park, Calif.

Thousands of people have been forced out of their homes in Ventura County, about 30 miles from Malibu.

Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeted that the fire is heading towards the ocean, punctuating the message with the declaration: "Imminent threat!"

Images of the Hill Fire burning in Ventura County.

The combination of parched vegetation and high winds led the fire to grow rapidly.

The so-called Camp Fire, which has grown to more than 70,000 acres, is moving quickly and making it hard for officials to search for other victims.

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