NEWS
10/11/2018 09:06 GMT

California Wildfires: At Least Nine Dead As Blaze Incinerates Town

At least 250,000 people have been forced to flee their home.

Wildfires in the US state of California have claimed the lives of at least nine people after the blaze incinerated a town of 30,000 people.

Flames near the town of Paradise in Sacramento grew to nearly 140 square miles within a day and destroyed more than 6,700 structures, most of them homes.

The blaze has grown into California’s most destructive fire in at least 100 years.

“There was really no firefight involved,” said Captain Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

He added that crews gave up attacking the flames and instead helped people to escape.

“These firefighters were in the rescue mode all day yesterday,” he said.

State officials say some 250,000 have been forced out of their homes, among them Hollywood stars including Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian.

Evacuation orders included the entire city of Malibu, which is home to 13,000.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Donald Trump has declared emergency state funds for Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

When Paradise was evacuated, the order triggered a desperate exodus which saw motorists get stuck in gridlocked traffic and abandon their vehicles to flee on foot.

People reported seeing homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement centre engulfed by the flames.

SIPA USA/PA Images

The cause of the fire is not known, but Pacific Gas & Electric Company told state regulators it experienced an outage on an electrical transmission line near Paradise about 15 minutes before the blaze broke out.

The company said it later noticed damage to a transmission tower near the town. 

The mammoth blaze spread north on Friday, prompting officials to order the evacuation of Stirling City and Inskip, two communities north of Paradise along the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The wind-driven flames also spread to the west and reached Chico, a city of 90,000 people. Firefighters were able to stop the fire at the edge of the city, Cal Fire captain Bill Murphy said.