At least five people have been reported dead due to a massive wildfire in Northern California, the Chico Enterprise-Record reported.
The Butte County Sheriff’s Office said the five victims were found in vehicles that had been torched by flames and could not be identified right away due to burn injuries. They confirmed that autopsies would be conducted.
In less than a day, the fire quadrupled in size–growing to 70,000 acres and is only 5 percent contained. The blaze has left entire communities devastated, and by Friday morning, Cal Fire reported 2,000 structures had been destroyed in the flames.
“The Camp Fire has been an extremely challenging fire and has resulted in significant and catastrophic loss for that community, the community of Paradise specifically,” said Director of the governor’s Office of Emergency Services Mark Ghilarducci at a press conference this morning. “We know that there have been injuries and we know that there has been loss of life and we are still accounting for that.”
More than 2,000 firefighters from across Northern California, including crews from Oakland and San Francisco, were reported to be on the lines to fight the blaze. Three firefighters were reported by the Chico Enterprise-Record to have been injured working to contain the fire.
For the first time in the history of the Alameda County Fire Department, Dozer 17 and two Dozer operators, Captain Poulleau and Captain Book (from Station 17 in @DublinPIO) were deployed to the #CampFire on a Dozer Strike Team. pic.twitter.com/RfgcsKnzue
— Alameda County Fire (@AlamedaCoFire) November 9, 2018
The fire–fueled by low humidity and winds reaching 50 mph–has forced thousands to evacuate, leaving residents devastated and emotional.
“I saw everything burn, just tornadoes like you wouldn’t believe,” Duane Damico told KPIX 5 while holding back tears. “The town hall was burning when I left. I just had to leave. I was tired of cutting down fences for people…Jesus Christ I hope not too many people die in this fire.”
KPIX 5 reported that at least 400 welfare checks had been requested by families in search of loved ones who have not been heard from since yesterday when the fire went through Paradise, a town of about 30,000 residents.
Many families have taken to Twitter in search for their missing relatives. Actor James Woods has used his account on the social media platform to aid in their searches, retweeting several people pleading for help.
When tweeting info on missing loved ones, please give name, address (or just town), special needs or conditions, and YOUR contact info (phone number or @Twitter handle) with either hashtag (see below????)Thank you. https://t.co/7NZUP3ih1M
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) November 9, 2018
The fire was reported in a rural area on Thursday morning, and by nightfall had consumed more than 28 square miles, Cal Fire Captain Scott McLean said. The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.
New evacuations were reported this morning as the fire continues. The San FranciscoChronicle reported that according to Cal Fire, the blaze is expected to be fully contained by November 30.