National News

The Latest: Police chief doesn't know if home is standing

The Associated Press
Posted: Nov. 8, 2018 7:00 am Updated: Nov. 8, 2018 9:40 pm

OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Many people who fled a Northern California town to escape a wildfire say they don't know whether their homes survived.

The police chief in the town of Paradise, Eric Reinbold, was in that group. Reinbold said Thursday he lives in the middle of town and doesn't know if his house is standing.

The town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco was evacuated. An Associated Press photographer found businesses and homes leveled or in flames, including a liquor store and gas station. A California fire official says he has reports of several hundred structures that have been destroyed, but officials say they won't have an exact count until they can get into the area.

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6 p.m.

A police officer who helped residents escape a wildfire bearing down on a Northern California town says the town has been devastated.

Officer Mark Bass said he returned to the town of Paradise on Thursday to find offices, large stores and restaurants leveled or burning. The town of about 27,000 people is 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

Bass is an officer in the nearby town of Chico.

Another police officer in Chico, John Barker, said many elderly people live in Paradise and some are immobile. People posted photos on Twitter of missing seniors.

Barker said he was briefly trapped by fire while trying to get people out, with flames across the road in front of him and behind him.

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5:45 p.m.

Officials are describing a harrowing effort to rescue patients from a hospital in a Northern California town ravaged by wildfire.

Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter said he was on a bulldozer that pushed cars out of the way Thursday to get to the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in the town of Paradise. When he arrived there, patients were out in the front of the emergency room, where the roof had caught fire. The town of about 27,000 people is 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

He said sheriff's deputies helped patients evacuate. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said some people at the hospital were trapped in a tunnel.

Hospital spokeswoman Jill Kinney said all patients were evacuated.

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5 p.m.

A California fire official says he has reports of several hundred structures that have been destroyed in a Northern California town ravaged by a wildfire, but officials say they won't have an exact count until they can get into the area.

Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read said Thursday the destruction in the town of Paradise could be upward of a thousand structures. Officials have ordered the town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco to evacuate.

An AP photographer found businesses and homes leveled or in flames, including a liquor store and gas station.

Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in the area.

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4:30 p.m.

A California fire official says a Northern California wildfire has claimed a significant number of structures and injured two firefighters and multiple civilians.

Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read provided the update at a news conference Thursday about the fire around the town of Paradise.

The fire has consumed more than 26 square miles (69 square kilometers) and forced residents of the town to evacuate. The town of about 27,000 people is 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

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4 p.m.

A California fire official says people are trapped in a Northern California town that was evacuated because of a wildfire.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. John Gaddie said crews were still focused Thursday on helping people get out of the town of Paradise. The fire has consumed more than 26 square miles (69 square kilometers) and forced residents of the town to evacuate. The town of about 27,000 people is 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

Gaddie said he was aware of four or five injuries, but no deaths. He said the fast-moving flames forced fire crews to shelter people at a Walgreens and other locations until flames passed through.

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3:45 p.m.

A Southern California university is being evacuated due to a fast-growing wildfire that has shrouded the school in smoke.

California State University, Channel Islands, says the Thursday afternoon evacuation of the 7,000-student campus is due to poor air quality.

The Ventura County Fire Department has also ordered evacuation of some communities in the path of the fire, which erupted a few miles from the site of Wednesday night's deadly mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar.

A second Southern California wildfire is also burning just northwest of the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles.

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3:35 p.m.

Evacuations are being ordered as strong Santa Ana winds fan a Southern California wildfire a few miles from the site of the mass shooting in the city of Thousand Oaks.

The fire erupted Thursday afternoon and the Ventura County Fire Department quickly ordered evacuations of the community of Camarillo Springs and a trailer park as the fire jumped U.S. 101.

The major artery has been shut down and cars and trucks are trying to turn around to get away from the flames.

More than 160 firefighters have been dispatched and eight air tankers have been ordered.

The gusty, withering Santa Ana winds blow from the interior toward the coast and have been involved in the spread of many of the region's worst wildfires.

A large fire also is burning several hours north of San Francisco.

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3:20 p.m.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company says it has shut off power to some customers and suspended natural gas service to a Northern California town because of a wildfire.

PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno said about 34,000 customers in Butte and Plumas counties are without power. The fire has consumed more than 26 square miles (69 square kilometers) and forced residents of the town of Paradise to evacuate. The town of about 27,000 people is 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

San Francisco Bay Area air quality officials say the fire is sending smoke into the area, and children, elderly and people with respiratory problems should take precautions. The sky was hazy in San Francisco.

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3 p.m.

A wind-driven brush fire has erupted in Southern California, burning near structures in the Newbury Park area of Ventura County.

The Ventura County Fire Department says the fire has quickly grown to 100 acres (40 hectares).

More than 160 firefighters have been dispatched, and eight air tankers have been ordered.

Gusty Santa Ana winds are blowing through Ventura and neighboring Los Angeles counties.

In Northern California, thousands of people have fled a fire that has destroyed homes near the town of Paradise in Butte County.

The fire is about 5 miles from the site of a shooting Wednesday night at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, in which 12 people were killed.

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2:30 p.m.

Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom is declaring a state of emergency in Northern California because of a dangerous wildfire that has destroyed homes and forced thousands to flee.

Newsom issued the declaration Thursday for Butte County as the fast-moving fire continues to burn around the town of Paradise about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

Newsom is filling in as the chief executive while Gov. Jerry Brown is out of the state. Newsom was elected this week to succeed the termed-out Brown.

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2:15 p.m.

A spokeswoman for a Northern California hospital that evacuated because of a fast-moving wildfire says 20 patients had to go back to the facility because of gridlocked traffic.

Adventist Health Feather River Hospital spokeswoman Jill Kinney said Thursday clinics and other outbuildings were on fire or had been damaged, but the main hospital was untouched.

The hospital is in the town of Paradise about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco. At least 27,000 people in the town were ordered to flee.

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2:10 p.m.

A California fire official says a fast-moving wildfire in Northern California has destroyed structures and injured civilians.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. John Gaddie said Thursday he did not know how many structures were destroyed and did not know the extent of people's injuries.

At least 27,000 people in the town of Paradise about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco were ordered to flee.

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1:15 p.m.

A woman who evacuated a Northern California fire says people abandoned their vehicles to flee the blaze and held babies and pets as they escaped.

Gina Oviedo said there was fire everywhere as she got out of the town of Paradise about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco on Thursday.

Oviedo described a devastating scene, saying homes were engulfed in flames and utility poles were crashing down. She said people left their vehicles and ran when they started hearing explosions.

At least 27,000 people in Paradise were ordered to flee.

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12:55 p.m.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea says a fire in Northern California is a "very dangerous and serious situation."

He is confirming reports that people had to abandon their vehicles as they try to flee the fast-moving fire.

He says the agency is spread thin on resources but officials are "doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas."

At least 27,000 people in the town of Paradise about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco were ordered to flee Thursday.

He says he wants people to know that if they can evacuate, they need to evacuate.

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12:10 a.m.

Butte County Sheriff's spokeswoman Miranda Bowersox says 27,000 people in the town of Paradise have been ordered to flee a fast-moving wildfire in Northern California.

The fire started early Thursday.

Paradise is a town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

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11:50 a.m.

Shelley Freeman says her family and friends scrambled to evacuate in Northern California as a fast-moving fire approached.

She says she heard from a friend that people, horses and dogs had congregated in a parking lot of a Kmart in the town of Paradise. The friend waiting there with dogs in her car described to her all the trees around the store as on fire.

Freeman says her friend described being surrounded by explosions in the parking lot and soon being unable to see the fire because of all the smoke.

Freeman says she's had trouble reaching her family and friends who live in the area because phone lines are down. Those she has heard from say the roads are gridlocked.

Freeman says she's scared for everyone and feels helpless from far away.

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10:50 a.m.:

A Northern California hospital says it has evacuated its patients because of a fast-moving wildfire.

Adventist Health Feather River said in a post on Twitter Thursday that is transported to surrounding area hospitals. Hospital officials have not returned calls from The Associated Press about the evacuation.

The hospital is in Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

The Chico Enterprise-Record reports that a retirement home and Ponderosa Elementary School were also evacuated.

Evacuated hospital patients are being taken to hospitals throughout the region.

The fire started around 6:30 a.m.

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10:20 a.m.

Shary Bernacett says she and her husband tried to get people to leave the mobile home park they manage in Paradise, California, with just minutes to evacuate as a wildfire approached the east side of town.

Bernacett said she and her husband "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to alert as many of the residents of 53 mobile homes and recreational vehicles as possible to leave the area Thursday morning as authorities ordered the area evacuated.

She and her husband grabbed their dog, jumped in their pickup truck and drove through 12-foot high flames before getting to safety on Highway 99.

Bernacett says the fire overtook the Feather River Hospital, about two miles (three kilometers) east of the mobile home park.

She says the air is black with smoke and ash.

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10 a.m.:

A wildfire in Northern California has grown to nearly 8 square miles (20 square kilometers) as officials rush to evacuate residents.

Tina Greer says the Paradise care home where her disabled son lives with five other patients is evacuating, but it takes time to pack the patients' medical equipment and medicine. Her 25-year-old son has cerebral palsy, needs a wheelchair to get around and is fed through a tube.

Greer says heavy ash is falling in Chico, about 14 miles (22 kilometers) west of the fire.

The Butte County Sheriff's office says an evacuation order was issued Thursday for areas of Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

Greer works for a phone answering service that is handling numerous phone calls for the Feather River Hospital, which has been ordered to evacuate and is not responding to calls.

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8:30 a.m.

Authorities in Northern California have ordered mandatory evacuations in a rural area where a wildfire has grown to 1,000 acres (405 hectares) amid hot and windy weather.

The Butte County Sheriff's office says an evacuation order was issued Thursday for areas of Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

The California Highway Patrol closed Highway 70 near the fire and urged motorists to avoid the area.

Fire officials say firefighters are working to access the area and that the blaze continues to spread.

The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through Friday evening.

 

 

 

 

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