One year after the deadliest and costliest wildfire season in California’s history, three wildfires have broken out in Northern California. On Friday, the most aggressive of the three fires destroyed most of the town of Paradise, a community with 27,000 residents, forcing residents to frantically flee for their lives. According to USA Today, as strong winds fanned the flames, they also hindered aircrafts’ ability to drop flame retardant on the fire.
In a 24 hour period, the Camp fire surged through the town of Paradise, located in the Sierra foothills, torching some 31 square miles, or 20,000 acres. Panicking residents dropped everything, with some abandoning cars to flee on foot as the fire blocked off escape routs. The state issued a mandatory evacuation order as the smoke from the flames darkened the skyline.
Residents described being surrounding by a “wall of fire” which left them only minutes to grab what little precious belongings they could before leaving.
“We were surrounded by fire, we were driving through fire on each side of the road,” said police officer Mark Bass, who lives in Paradise and works in neighboring Chico.
Bass evacuated his family and then returned to the fire to help rescue several disabled residents, including a man trying to carry his bedridden wife to safety. “It was just a wall of fire on each side of us, and we could hardly see the road in front of us.”
Sherri Pritchard said she only had time to grab a few pictures before fleeing with her family and dogs, even leaving clothes behind.
“It was crazy, because when we were sitting in traffic people were panicking,” she said. “It was chaos. I couldn’t believe what people were doing.”
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…