While dawn in California is still several hours away, it will rise in a completely different city. The 27,000-member community of Paradise was destroyed last night by the explosive campfire. Previous reports indicate that the entire city was essentially wiped out and the residents died or burned badly as they tried to escape the inferno.
"The community of paradise is pretty much destroyed, that's a kind of destruction," according to the AP. "The predicted wind came and put it out."
McLean estimated that the fire had destroyed thousands of buildings, which would immediately plunge the campfire into one of California's most destructive fires. The nation's nine worst fires have burned at least 1
Regardless of where they end up on the list, it is obvious that the campfire has irrevocably changed the lives of thousands of people – or is still – on its way. The fire started in the Plumas National Forest, which was first reported on Thursday around 6:30 pm PT. It exploded during the day as it marched west. At 9:30, it had consumed at least 5,000 acres. Eleven hours later, it was at least 20,000 hectares, and the flames were driven by strong winds in a dry landscape.
The city of Paradise lies in the middle of the scorched morning. As the fire unfolded throughout the day, reports of the police banner reported unimaginable horrors. The speed with which the fire grew surprised the residents, and the evacuation slowed down in some places. Scanning officers reported abandoned cars and people looking for shelter in local stores when the campfire hit town. Residents confirmed the scenes opposite the AP.
"Things started to explode," Gina Oviedo told the AP. "People got out of their vehicles and ran away."
Videos posted on social media shows of heartbreaking shots of people driving through flames and smoke walls to overcome the fire. Local news crews also spotted a whirlwind of fire – the baby, but no less frightening cousin of firenados like the one triggered by the Carr fire this year – and flogging in front of paradise. 19659003] With firefighters in full lifesaving mode, the campfire is essentially uncontrolled. Late Tuesday night reports suggest that it had jumped over a freeway and spread to the south and west including Chico, a city of 93,000. CALFIRE reports that as many as 15,000 structures are at risk.
"Due to the fluid and rapidly changing conditions, residents are encouraged to keep abreast of official evictions and road closures via official sources," CALFIRE warned. Due to heavy Internet traffic, the Butte County Sheriff has used Twitter to post the latest evacuation information. So if you live there, you should update it regularly.
When the flames are finally extinguished and the inhabitants are erased. Able to return to Paradise, they will find a place quite different from that from which they fled. And they face a dilemma that more and more Californians have faced: reconstruction or departure. In a world where climate change makes forest fires longer and fires more destructive, the former is an increasingly cruel proposition.