Tens of Thousands Flee Fast-Moving California Wildfire (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)

The Camp Fire scorched 5,000 acres in about three hours officials say

Residents fleeing a northern California town that officials say was "destroyed" by a fast-moving wildfire were suddenly forced to abandon their vehicles in traffic and run for their lives as "things started exploding" around them. "There's nothing much left standing", California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott Maclean said.

Meanwhile, portions of Southern California remained under siege early Friday as two large fires threatened numerous Ventura County communities.

The fire began around 6:33 a.m. on November 8 and swept through the area at a speed of about one football field every three seconds, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

When the order came to evacuate, it was like the entire town of 27,000 residents chose to leave at once, they said. The university said it planned to close Friday "out of an abundance of caution".

California Highway Patrol announced Thursday afternoon it had closed several roads in the area, including Skyway Road, which is the northerly passage out of town, and Highway 70 to the south of the fire.

Evacuations in Butte County spread Friday to the towns of Stirling City and Inskip as well as the eastern edge of Chico, though Cal Fire officials say no structures there are damaged and the city is under no immediate threat.

There were 23.4 million Californians lopes not only fan flames but also dry out the land surface, lowering relative humidity levels to 10 percent - creating tinderbox conditions for the spread of fire. One of them was on fire, and some cars were driving through it, but she didn't want to chance it with the children in the vehicle, he said.

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Fire officials have issued evacuation notices for parts of Chico, a town of 93,000 people north of Sacramento.

The National Weather Service had predicted unsafe fire weather conditions in California because of Santa Ana winds, which roar in from the east and accelerate down California's north-to-south-oriented mountain slopes.

Videos of the area posted on social media showed cars driving along what appeared to be a tunnel of flame, while others depicted untouched lawns or buildings set against a backdrop of deep orange, the fire racing towards people's homes.

One of the fires broke out Thursday north-west of Los Angeles and roared south, jumping the United States 101 freeway early Friday and sweeping into the Santa Monica Mountains.

Laura Anthony witnessed the fire whirl, a whirlwind caused by fire and consisting of flame or ash, on the outskirts of Paradise on Thursday.

Chico police officer John Barker and his partner evacuated several seniors from an apartment complex. "The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out".

"In the past few years, just the way fires have moved, firefighters have had to help with evacuations before they can go back in to put out the fire", Cal Fire spokesperson Lynne Tolmachoff said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Herrera, who lives in Paradise with her 88-year-old husband, Lou, left a frantic voicemail at around 9:30 a.m. saying they needed to get out. By 8.20 am, the house was burning'. "We're anxious sick. They do have a vehicle, but they both are older and can be confused at times". - More than 18,000 acres have been scorched in a matter of hours burning with it a hospital, a gas station and dozens of homes.

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