Homes, hospital burn as thousands flee California wildfire

Drift Smoke from Butte County Fire Enters Contra Costa County

Drift Smoke from Butte County Fire Enters Contra Costa County

Resident Shari Bernacett told the Associated Press she "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to get mobile home residents in her area to leave as fire consumed the hillside.

The Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in Paradise evacuated staff and 41 patients to other hospitals, given its close proximity to the fire, said Jill Kinney, an Adventist Health spokeswoman.

The Concow School sent its 60 students home shortly after the blaze, but many faculty members are anxious about their homes, said Golden Feather Union Elementary School District Superintendent Josh Peete. By Thursday afternoon, the fire was growing at the rate of about one football field every three seconds, assisted by dry conditions and wind gusts of up to 65 miles per hour.

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. "All patients are being transported to surrounding area hospitals", a statement said.

Officials were sending as many firefighters as they could, Cal Fire spokesperson Rick Carhart said. The fire destroyed about 1,000 structures in Paradise, including a church and some buildings at a local hospital, according to Cal Fire and interviews with residents.

Video footage taken by ABC Redding affiliate KRCR showed the hospital surrounded by thick smoke as the fire illuminated the darkened sky in the background. "God help us!" she said before breaking down crying.

"My husband tried his best to get everybody out".

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Freeman says she's scared for everyone and feels helpless from far away. The warning will remain in effect in the area until Friday morning, officials said.

She and her husband grabbed their dog, jumped in their pickup truck and drove through 12-foot high flames before getting to safety on Highway 99.

"Every engine that we could put on the fire is on the fire right now, and more are coming", he said.

Five people were burned in Paradise, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP). 'There are dozens of strike teams that we're bringing in from all parts of the state'.

The 5,000-acre fire started off Camp Creek Road and Pulga Road, Jarbo Gap, off state Highway 70 in Feather River Canyon, according to FOX 40.

A Red Flag Warning is in place through Friday morning in the Butte County area, and winds are expected to gust at speeds as high as 40 miles per hour overnight, according to the National Weathers Service.

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