Lee Anne Looney, 29, a nursing assistant in a rural hospital in this town, 27,000 at the foot of the Sierra Mountains, said the sense of urgency about a nearby fire was low when she got to work early in the morning.
But the fire spread rapidly, its growth developed by harsh conditions, dry and wide, which caused official warnings to rise and fall.
Within half an hour, the hospital, the Health Federter, Feder River, had alerted loudspeakers warning of the impending emergency and began a hectic confrontation to evacuate the patients and hospital staff before the flames reached the city. Patients, including many on stretchers or wheelchairs, were loaded with waiting ambulances, police cars, and even several nurses' vehicles as the crew hurried to evacuate, Lonnie said. Within a few hours of the evacuation of the hospital, many of the buildings on her campus, at an improvised medical station built on a nearby helicopter helicopter, were left unchanged.
The story was not unique. Residents across the area, in the province of Bota, about 90 km north of Sacramento state capital, described escapees from catastrophic fire, which grew at an astonishing speed, turning a sunny day into an end-of-day scene of flames, smoke, sparks and extensive destruction. Found dead in their cars in heaven, and they warned that it is likely that there will be more, as the social media is flooded with reports of missing family members.On Friday night they confirmed the sixth death, and then raised the number of deaths to nine.
This city was almost wiped out. This is the main commercial street that turns into a cycle of smoke destruction, and estimates that at least 80% of its homes were burned.
And the camp fire, named after a nearby stream, had not yet been made. State emergency, it burned at least 70,000 hectares, almost 110 square kilometers, and only 5 percent contained on Friday afternoon. He injured an unknown number of residents, as well as three firefighters, officials said. And hundreds of miles south of Ventura County, still wobbling from the mass shooting that left 12 dead, more fires broke out.
The hospital turns completely, said Lonnie, calling it one of the most "frightening, but also amazing" things she has ever seen. The patients were transferred from the hospital through the emergency room with attention to the level of treatment they required. There were people who were recently in surgery. Babies who had come back into their mothers' hands. Patients with breathing or feeding tubes, she said.
But leaving the hospital was only the beginning of the evacuation. The two-lane road near the hospital choked with traffic as the car from the approaching flames slowed to a crawl.
Lonnie and other residents described a scene that cast doubt on their chances of survival: flames flickering on both sides of the road, transformers blowing on electric poles, and tree branches falling and thick smoke choking the sun and making the air poisonous.
Street signs gleamed in the orange light, the dance of fire. Everything was swallowed up. And the movement hardly moved.
"There were no traffic laws, everyone simply took care of themselves, cars ran into each other," said Lonnie, describing two people who got out of their cars and began running. She called her brother, wondering if this was the last time she was talking to him.
Others described terrifying ants. Mark Kessler, 55, a science teacher at the public high school in Heaven, said the sky had turned black shortly after he came to work.
"It was raining black soot, falling like a black snowstorm and setting bonfires everywhere," he said in an interview. "Within a few minutes the city was surrounded."
Teachers were told by emergency workers to abandon seat belt laws because they stacked up 200 students for personal vehicles. Bus drivers were in flames to help, he said. One of his students pointed to what they thought was the moon in the dark sky.
"I said," It's not the moon. It's the sun, "he recalled, his voice cracking," there were times when you could not see the smoke. "
Other residents, like Mike Kirby, 62, made other plans after seeing the clogged roads. A lifetime resident of Paradise awoke to the unnatural darkness outside at 8:30, loading his trailer. He finished a store in a cemetery in the city – "a large area of green," he said, where he felt he had room to move if he needed, despite warnings from fire crews.
"I was completely surrounded by one point," he said. He spent the night there safely; The cemetery was almost untouched.
The rest of the city, which has a large community of retirees, was not as well. People who returned on Friday arrived to find a lot of them destroyed.
Houses lay in ruins along the road, which was covered with shells of burned-out cars and other debris. A strip of downtown business that included Burger King, Walro Gas Station, and a small box and small business was reduced to charred ruins.
The nearby neighborhoods were also erased. For every building that survived there were dozens. Mayor of Gerry and Jones He told the reporters Because about 80% of the houses in the city were burned. Officials said they still do not have a complete death count because of the dangers caused by the fire.
In addition to heaven, the nearby communities of Maglia, Polga, Konkov, Bota Valley and Bota Creek were also under evacuation orders.
The horrifying urge to escape so many people described – one of them became even more remote because of the movement – pointed to questions about whether planning or infrastructure was needed in an era of catastrophic fires in the country.
Scott Lutter, a member of the city council of Paradise, said it took him almost two hours to walk a mile with his wife, daughter and son-in-law, pet rabbit and two dogs.
In less than a year, California saw its peak in the Great Fire Broken, by 282,000 hectares Thomas Dunn in the provinces of Ventura and Santa Barbara in December. This record was shattered in July when the complex fire of Mendoza claimed 460,000 hectares. And six of the country's 10 most destructive fires, measured in the number of buildings destroyed, have occurred over the past 10 years.
Camp fire destroyed at least 2,000 buildings, which will bring it to number 4 on the list. Thousands more were threatened, and about 50,000 people were evacuated throughout the area.
Steven Payne, a professor of humanities at the University of Arizona, said the destruction of Paradise was a sad sign of the intensity of modern California fires.
"We're seeing an urban flare up, and that's the real change of the stage in recent years," Laird said. "But what is amazing is how they are plowing the cities, which we thought was something that was banished a hundred years ago."
Officials said On Friday morning, an evacuation order was also issued to Stirling City and to the island, as the National Weather Service warned that low winds and high winds could create "critical fire weather."
The fire began Thursday for Polga, a small community surrounded by the national forest of Palomas. The first firefighters arrive reached 10-15 acres burning between wind gusts of nearly 50 mph.
Kessler, a teacher at Paradise High School, said more than 100 of the students were taken to Cecco, where they reunited with their family. He read an e-mail to Foss from one of his students.
"The campfire is horrible I want to go home but there is no home to go home," said the email, according to Kessler. "I can not stop crying and I have panic attacks."
Rick Prinz, from Paradise, who was the football coach of the Paradise High School in the past 20 years, said that his players had every account but were going through the same thing.
"Many children have lost their homes, and many of them are scattered now," the 59-year-old told the news agency. "I know that three of my coaches have lost their homes, and I know that entire neighborhoods have been burned, I guess I lost my house."
Officials said schools in the district would be closed by Nov. 23. In the city of Tsuku, the college city, which is about 93,000 kilometers, six kilometers from Paradis, the clerks watched wearily.
The National Weather Service predicted dangerous weather in California because of Santa Ana winds, roaring to the east and accelerating the mountain slopes of northern California to the south. Warnings of the red flag on "critical weather conditions in the fire" were in fact not only for the Sacramento Valley but also through Central and Southern California. Gusts of 50 mph were expected in many places.
About 23.4 million Californians were still Under the warnings of a red flag On early Friday, although the winds were supposed to calm down, giving the emergency guards better conditions to fight the flames.
Kessler said the fire was like a battle.
"I felt like we were under attack without warning," he said.
Bever and Rosenberg reported from Washington. Jason Samanov contributed to this report.