Moving wildfire claims 5 lives and quadruples in size in Northern California

Hospital workers and first responders evacuate patients from the Feather River Hospital as the Camp Fire moves through the area on Nov. 8 2018 in Paradise California

In the south, flames leapt and raged from Thousand Oaks south through the northwestern San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles and appeared headed inexorably towards the Pacific Ocean.

That was all before the Camp Fire escalated rapidly Thursday, changing the lives of not just the football team at Paradise, but the entire community forever.

With fires also burning in Southern California, state officials put the total number of people forced from their homes at more than 200,000. "They were going off like bombs", said Karen Auday, who escaped to a nearby town. On Instagram she urged people to "pray for Calabasas".

Almost 800km to the south, a second blaze forced the evacuation of the upscale oceanside city of Malibu and threatened the beleaguered town of Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people this week in a rampage in a bar and dance hall.

The utility has been under fire since being blamed for some of the Wine Country wildfires of October 2017 that destroyed hundreds of homes, forced the evacuation of 90,000 North Bay residents and left more than 40 people dead. However, at this time it can't be determined if the building were destroyed or only partially damaged - though fire officials are saying the city was decimated by the flames. "And it moved very, very quickly from a rather remote area to populated areas".

A horrifying new video illuminates the dangers of the Camp Fire in Northern California.

The Camp Fire ignited Thursday and evolved into the most fierce of the wind-driven fires in what has been one of the worst years for wildfires in California.

The Butte County Sheriff's office said the victims had been burned to death in their cars and could not immediately be identified. The National Weather Service issued red-flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through the evening.

A wind-whipped fire north of Los Angeles in Ventura County burned up to 15 square miles and at least one home in a matter of hours.

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"Just landed back home and had 1 hour to pack up & evacuate our home".

"We had to drive through flames to make it out safely", she said.

"It was absolutely dark", said resident Mike Molloy, who said he made a decision based on the wind to leave Thursday morning, packing only the minimum and joining a sea of other vehicles.

Her husband, the rapper Kanye West, said their family was "safe". Some people abandoned their cars and ran for their lives.

"We've just been posting all over social media".

A blaze is also approaching LA Zoo.

At least one nursing home and the Feather River Hospital were evacuated and several homes were on fire, according to the Sacramento Bee, and the region is covered with thick, dark smoke.

Using data from various government sources, spatial analytics company Esri has created two interactive maps to help people track the progression of the fires and stay up to date on traffic and smoke forecasts.

When Paradise was evacuated, the order set off a desperate exodus in which many motorists got struck in gridlocked traffic and abandoned their vehicles to flee on foot.

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