California fire destroys thousands of structures, residents scramble to flee
A fast-moving wildfire which ravaged a Northern California town on Thursday sent residents racing to escape on roads which turned into tunnels of fire as thick smoke darkened the day-time sky, wiping out what a Cal Fire official said was a couple of thousand structures. Harrowing tales of escape and heroic rescues emerged from Paradise, where the entire community of 27,000 was ordered to evacuate. Witnesses reported seeing homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement home up in flames. The fire was reported shortly after daybreak in a rural area. By nightfall, it had consumed more than 28 square miles (73 square kilometres) and firefighters had no containment on the blaze, Cal Fire Captain Scott McLean said.