Wildfire devastates California town of Paradise

The massive plume from the Camp Fire burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise Calif. wafts over the Sacramento Valley as seen from Chico Calif

An 8,000-acre fire in Northern California's Butte County forced thousands to evacuate from their homes, hospitals and schools on Thursday.

Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read said at a news conference that two firefighters and multiple residents were injured. Flames were engulfing homes, utility poles were crashing down and things were exploding, she said. "We had to ride through flames to get here", he said from the side of a road west of Paradise. Rescuers were trying to put them in other vehicles, he said.

Gaddie, the fire official, said authorities were "working on a plan" to rescue the patients. "The message I want to get out is if you can evacuate, you need to evacuate", Honea said.

Thick grey smoke and ash filled the sky above Paradise and could be seen from miles away.

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

"We hope the winds will die down around midnight", he said.

"The whole hill's on fire", she said while crying.

This photo taken from video provided by CBS2/KCAL9 shows a wildfire burning in Camarillo.

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Groups of fleeing residents gathered in a Kmart parking lot in Paradise, with their dogs and some with horses, waiting to be evacuated, said Shelley Freeman who spoke to a relative and friends in Paradise.

BFD spokesperson Keith May said BFD is sending one engine to assist the City of Oakland as its fire department responds to a fire on Highway 13, just south of Joaquin Miller Road. "There are dozens of strike teams that we're bringing in from all parts of the state".

According to the National Weather Service, the strong winds are expected to continue through Friday.

Some of the patients were initially turned around during their evacuation because of gridlocked traffic and later airlifted to other hospitals, along with staff, Kinney said.

When he arrived there, patients were out in the front of the emergency room, where the roof had caught fire.

"It's very chaotic. It's a very bad fire", Officer Ryan Lambert of the California Highway Patrol said of the evacuation.

Camp Fire in Butte County Red circles on this live-updating map are actively burning areas, as detected by satellite.

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