PARADISE (CBS SF) — A fast-moving wildfire has driven thousands of residents of the Butte County town of Paradise from their homes, forcing some to abandon their cars during their flight to safety.

Fueled by 50 mph winds, the wall of flames from the Camp Fire roared through 6,000 acres by Thursday afternoon. The Sacramento Bee reported that desperate residents abandoned their vehicles as they fled the foothill town.

Emergency personnel were forced to push the cars off the roads being used for the exodus.

“The whole lower side of Paradise is totally engulfed in flames,” evacuee Kevin Winstead told Action News Now reporter Laura Eng. “The Pacifica, Princeton area, Neal Road and the Feather River Hospital all engulfed in flames right now.”

“Not one home will be left standing. I am devastated. We just bought a home in Upper Magalia right now, and we’re hoping that our brand-new home that we just get to move into tomorrow is not going to be burned to the ground. We’re kind of all shaking right now. So we grabbed our animals and some food and clothes and we’re getting the heck out of here.”

Local resident Alan Ingram took to social media to document to exodus.

@kris33103343 also posted videos of the fire on Twitter.

A hospital and 11 schools were forced to evacuate patients and students as the fire, which was sparked early Thursday, got uncomfortably close.

​”Given the Butte County fire is within close proximity, as a precaution Adventist Health Feather River Medical Center is evacuating all patients. All patients are being transported to surrounding area hospitals,” a statement said.

The patients were taken to Oroville Hospital and Enloe Medical Center, the statement said.

The fire also forced the evacuation of every school in Paradise, as well as a school in Concow to the east, school officials said. The 3,300 students at the 11 schools in Paradise were being transported down a ridge in buses and staff members’ vehicles to an evacuation center in Chico, Butte County Schools Superintendent Tim Taylor said.

The Concow School sent its 60 students home shortly after the blaze, but many faculty members are worried about their homes, said Golden Feather Union Elementary School District Superintendent Josh Peete.

“Luckily, the fire broke out early enough that there were only a few students there and we had a plan. We were able to get them home pretty quick,” he said. “By the time we got out, the flames were a half mile away from the school. We tried to get all the nondigital things that we could — you know, stuff that couldn’t be replaced.”

Butte College also closed Thursday morning, not because of the fire but so that fire personnel can use the campus as a staging area, the school said. Later, the sheriff’s office included the campus in its evacuation orders.

Jillian Smalley escaped her neighborhood as fire consumed everything around her. Flames and cinders crawled along the ground and up trees as she, her mother and grandmother fled the area. The smoke was so thick it appeared she was driving at night.

En route to her sister’s house in Chico, she told CNN she didn’t have high hopes that her home survived: “It’s probably gone already. It can’t be there anymore.”

Allana Hall captured photos of low-hanging black smoke stretching for miles as she and her boyfriend evacuated Paradise. It’s the second time Hall has fled a California fire, she said.

“We had to drive through flames to make it out safely,” she said. “I’m moving to Mammoth (Lake) the end of this month so we may head there early.”

The wildfire has been moving southwest through Paradise, a town of about 26,000, said Lynne Tolmachoff, chief of public education for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, aka Cal Fire.

“It started in Pulga, came across to Concow and down into Paradise. It’s been hopscotching the ridges,” she said.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for:

  • Pulga
  • Highway 70 from Concow South including all of Yankee Hill on both sides of 70.
  • Paradise: Fire zones 2,3,6 and 13
  • Pentz Road from Paradise south to Highway 70
  • All of Paradise is under mandatory evacuation except for Lower Clark Road, Lower Neil Road and Lower Skyway Road.
  • Magalia: Carnegie Zone, North Pines Zone, North Fire Haven Zone, South Fire Haven Zone, South Pine Zone, Old Magalia Zone and South Coutelenc Zone
  • Centerville and Butte Creek areas
  • From Pentz Road & Highway 70 south to Highway 149, including Butte College

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. CNN contributed to this report.

Comments (27)
  1. rytwinger says:

    This is quite sad…..

  2. John McElroy says:

    If you Californians decide to leave please do not bring your political philosophies with you.

  3. Mack Davis says:

    There’s always some shlt happening in California. I thought you people were going to secede already?

    1. Jim Jewell says:

      Sodom and Gomorrah all over again. The sins of hollywierd.

  4. Warrior of GOD says:

    California is getting what they deserve….They are run by evil liberal socialist communist demorats who have destroyed that state…Might as well burn it to the ground and start over….

    1. Butte County is a Red County and Paradise is an older demographic mostly conservative town. Butte County Sheriff issues CCW’s to non felons who ask with no special demands other than a 2nd amendment desire for self preservation as they should. I lost my home in the fire and while I understand the distain for California Politics f everyone with a wide brush is a very Progressive attitude. Makes you look ignorant as well.

  5. Bob van der Upwich says:

    I lived in Humboldt County for 10 years. Many years ago there was debate about not cutting underbrush for environmental reasons, like cutting particular species of growth that serve as cover for animal species. When you cut back brush around towns and homes you create a fire barrier by eliminating very dry fuel for fire to consume.

  6. Mike Jacobson says:

    If this was happening anywhere else I’d feel bad.

  7. Diane McGill says:

    How about feeling bad for the conservatives in California? Surprisingly, there are quite a few of us….just not along the coast.

  8. Mike Arvand says:

    Vote democrat, and the place burns down. It’s almost biblical in the metaphors simplicity.

  9. Jim M. Ryles says:

    Please say there in Mexifornia…don’t leave…we don’t want you progressive liberal democrat socialists…..say there and have your illegals put the fire out.

  10. Loa Andersen says:

    How can you…both Mikes and Warrior…rejoice in someone’s tragedy? People…regardless o their politics…are our brothers and sisters and deserve our compassion.

    1. Martin Deano says:

      In the past I would have shed tears and prayed for my fellow Americans in California for their suffering. But after the last ten years or so of witnessing the outright hatred and disdain these overpaid Hollywood “celebrities”” and super “tech billionaires” have for America and ordinary Americans, I hope they lose everything they have.

  11. Paul M Guy says:

    California could have logged all the lumber and grew new healthy trees. But the ECO-Terrorist prevailed and created a disaster.

  12. Christopher Witzel says:

    CA has been burning down under liberal rule. No money for firefighting aircraft, no motivation for Cal Fire to get the fires out. Poor forest management, etc. So what do californians do? Vote for Gavin!! You cannot fix stupid.

    1. Carol Deaver says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more, and I live here! Luckily I voted Red, but you are exactly right. Instead of building “the train to nowhere” and supporting illegal aliens we could be using that money to hire firefighters, law enforcement officers and buying more firefighting equipment and

  13. When you liberals in California finally realize you voted yourselves out of your state, do not come to the thriving conservative states and bring your progressive values and vote with you. You are like locusts, destroying your state then moving on to the next to destroy it. 10 billion a year spent on paying for and protecting illegals,would buy 400 firefighting Helicopters think about that when you lose your home.

  14. malice420dotcom says:

    Burn Baby Burn

  15. John Deuteronomy says:

    I feel worst for the people who didn’t have the means to live elsewhere, but the majority of the people there will do very well. The insurance companies are going to reimburse them and there is going to be a great burst of rebuilding in the areas affected. As long as most people get out of the burn zone with their lives there will be a huge pulse of rebuilding and it will be a real ongoing asset for people there.

  16. Burn, baby, burn. This is Karma for the evil and disgrace California has inflicted on the USA.