Raging wildfires across California have killed at least five people and driven 157,000 people from their homes, fire officials said Friday. Near Los Angeles, the affluent beachside town of Malibu was ordered evacuated as a wind-driven blaze jumped the U.S. 101 Freeway and raced toward the sea.
In Northern California’s Butte County, the sheriff’s office said investigators found five people dead in vehicles that were torched by the flames of a ferocious wildfire that roared through the town of Paradise.
The victims were found in the same area of the devastated retirement community that also lost some 2,000 structures.
“A whole town was wiped out in 24 hours,” Rocklin Police officer Jon Gee said. “It’s crazy.”
In Southern California, some 75,000 homes were ordered evacuated in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, with the Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeting: “imminent threat.”
Ventura County Fire Department Captain Scott Dettorre warned that as the Woolsey Fire crossed the famous Highway 101, a major transportation artery, “it will make its historic and typical run all the way down Pacific Coast Highway, threatening more homes, more property, more lives,” KTLA-TV reports.
Fire officials ordered the evacuation of all 13,000 residents of the community, which stretches 21 miles along the coastline.
“Fire is burning out of control, heading into populated areas of Malibu,” the city of Malibu tweeted. “All residents evacuate now.”