California wildfires: 150,000 evacuated as death toll climbs

Firefighters work to keep flames from spreading through the Shadowbrook apartment complex as a wildfire burns through Paradise Calif. on Friday Nov. 9 2018

Firefighters work to keep flames from spreading through the Shadowbrook apartment complex as a wildfire burns through Paradise Calif. on Friday Nov. 9 2018

Nine people have died in raging fires in California where 150,000 people have evacuated their homes.

Five of the dead were found in cars in the town of Paradise in northern California that was destroyed by the Camp Fire. A list compiled by a local news affiliate reports a growing number of missing people after almost the entire town of Paradise, population roughly 30,000, has been destroyed.

Fanned by ferocious Santa Ana winds and fueled by dry tinder, the fires immolated a mountain town and jangled the nerves of many tens of thousands of residents forced to evacuate their homes.

He said ash in the air was so thick that it "looked like midnight" in the middle of the day.

'It's a very unsafe and very serious situation, ' Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told The Associated Press.

Firefighters said that "pretty much all of the community", which is 180 miles north-east of San Francisco, had been destroyed.

The Ventura County Fire Department said the blaze had burned around 8,000 acres and evacuation orders were issued for some 88,000 homes in Ventura County and neighbouring Los Angeles County.

In the midst of the chaos, officials said they could not provide figures on the number of wounded, but County Cal Fire Chief Darren Read said at a news conference that at least two firefighters and multiple residents were injured.

A wildfire burns a structure near Malibu Lake in Malibu, Calif., Nov. 9, 2018.

At present two of the three fire fronts are reporting zero containment.

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Residents spoke of flames approaching their vehicles on the gridlocked roads and said electricity poles came crashing down. "And if you've been told to go, get out of there".

"It's devastating. It's like 'welcome to hell, '" resident Cynthia Ball, said about the dual disasters while she was outside the teen centre serving as a shelter for evacuees. Miller at first scoffed at the notion of getting back in a vehicle.

Acting California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in both of counties due to the Woolsey Fire and a second wildfire also burning in the area.

A red flag warning is in effect in the area, meaning Thursday will bring 20-to-40-mph winds and low humidity that threaten to spread the wildfire.

The LA County Sheriff's Office said it was receiving "many emergent phone calls" from people who "need our help to evacuate" and urged motorists in the area to be aware of emergency vehicles. Dozens of people have been reported missing and remained unaccounted for Friday morning. God help us!' Bernacett said before breaking down crying.

Hear more from Bass and see footage of the devastation above.

Images of the Hill Fire burning in Ventura County.

"I just wonder how many people didn't make it, and how many older folks and people with children in their cars didn't make it", she said.

Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy made a plea at a fire news conference to residents to help their neighbors during this hard time.

A fast-moving wildfire in Southern California has scorched a historic movie site recently used by the HBO series Westworld and forced numerous celebrities to join the thousands fleeing flames that have claimed homes and prompted the total evacuation of the celebrity enclave Malibu.

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