Three dangerous wildfires are raging in California.
The Camp Fire in northern California started Thursday morning and quickly charred the entire town of Paradise, which is home to 27,000. The flames grew so fast — a pace of 80 football fields per minute— that five people were burned to death in their cars, the Butte County sheriff said. As of 8:35 a.m. PT, fire officials reported the blaze had burned 70,000 acres in just over 24 hours, and was 5% contained.
To the south, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, two smaller fires also started Thursday and are now creating havoc for drivers and forcing homeowners to flee. The Woolsey and Hill Fires are burning through the hills and valleys of parts of Ventura and LA Counties. The flames have threatened the homes of celebrities like Kim Kardashian and shut down stretches of the 101 freeway.
Inside the city limits of LA, another smaller fire broke out Friday morning in Griffith Park, near the zoo. Firefighters there are scrambling to reach the area by helicopter, since it’s not accessible by truck.
The Camp Fire lit up around 6:30 a.m. on Thursday.
According to the Butte County sheriff’s office, the five people whose deaths have been confirmed were found near Edgewood Lane in Paradise, California, in “vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire.” The sheriff’s office has not yet released the identities of those victims because of their burn injuries. Other residents ran from the fire on foot, the Sacramento Bee reported.
California Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Butte County due to the Camp Fire Thursday, and sent a letter to President Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asking for federal assistance.
Smoke from that fire is blanketing wide swaths of northern California in a gray haze. On Friday morning, people in San Francisco woke up to the smell of smoke and poor air quality, and some donned masks to protect their lungs.
Federal air monitors have suggested that older adults, children, teens, and people with heart and lung conditions should limit their time outside due to the high number of dangerously small pollutants in the air. The air in San Francisco right now is as bad as Beijing, CBS reported.
The Hill and Woolsey Fires are growing in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties
So far, the Hill Fire has burned at least 6,000 acres in Ventura County, and mandatory evacuation orders are in place for people in Point Mugu Naval Base, Camarillo Springs, Vallecito Trailer Park, California State University Channel Islands, and Oak Park. Evacuations are also mandatory in parts of Dos Vientos and South Coast.
Shortly after noon on Friday, the City of Malibu said on its website that the “fire is now burning out of control and heading into populated areas of Malibu. All residents must evacuate immediately.” LA County Sheriff‘s Deputies were knocking on doors there, and telling everyone in the star-studded beach town of nearly 13,000 to get out using the Pacific Coast Highway.
On Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the two fires broke out near LA, Acting Gov. Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
People in areas including Calabasas, and Thousand Oaks (the same city where a mass shooter killed 12 people on Wednesday) were also told to evacuate their homes, the LA Times reported. As of Friday morning, roughly 88,000 homes in Ventura and LA Counties had been evacuated, per the Times, but there are no reported injuries or deaths.
Wildfire “season,” in California used to run from late summer through the fall, since autumn’s Santa Ana winds help blow flames around. But as the planet heats up, unseasonably high temperatures and drought conditions are becoming more common. So fire officials in the state are succumbing to the idea that fires may not be limited to any specific season anymore.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.