San Francisco, USA, Nov 8 (EFE).- A wildfire that started Thursday morning in northern California, has grown rapidly throughout the day, from 2,000 hectares affected to more than 7,000 ha in just six hours, forcing the evacuation of some 20,000 people, state authorities said.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Cal Fire, evacuation orders are active in the small towns of Pulga and Concow, in Butte County, as well as in the town of Paradise, with a population of about 26,000, and in the rural areas of Butte Creek Canyon and Butte Valley.
The area is about 140 kilometers from the state capital, Sacramento, and about 280 kilometers from the San Francisco Bay Area, where the smoke from the fire is visible, as Efe was able to confirm.
Local police have reported that some of their officers, as well as several residents, are trapped in the fire-affected area waiting to be rescued by emergency services.
Several buildings burned down, and some people have suffered severe burns, although at the moment there is no record of any fatalities.
Paradise City Councilman Scott Lotter, who evacuated the town with his family, told a local newspaper that “the whole town’s on fire” and described a scenario of “horror and chaos” in which roads are affected by traffic and abandoned cars.
The fire, known as ‘Camp Fire’, was declared early in the morning and spread rapidly through very dry terrain, helped by strong winds of up to 80 kilometers per hour that blow in that area.
California’s largest gas and electricity supplier, PG&E, has indicated that 14,000 residents in Butte and Plumas counties have been cut off at the request of firefighters to ensure safety.
Serious fires in California are increasingly frequent and violent, as evidenced by the fact that four of the five most destructive fires in the state’s history have occurred in the past six years, according to official records dating back to 1932.
In September, firefighters finally contained the Mendocino Complex fire, active since July and considered the largest fire in California’s history.