Officials at the Butte County Sheriff's office and Cal Fire, the state agency responsible for fighting wildfires, ordered evacuations throughout the morning for rural communities in the path of the wildfire, including Paradise, California, which is home to more than 26,000 people.
"We were surrounded by fire, we were driving through fire on each side of the road", said police officer Mark Bass, who lives in Paradise and works in Chico. "Those reports have not yet been verified", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told a news conference. She said she did not know the exact number of people evacuated.
The Camp Fire raged as tens of thousands of people fled and a couple thousand structures were destroyed in Paradise, about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco.
He confirmed reports that evacuees had to abandon their vehicles as they fled the scene. The normally two-way road has been converted to one-way to allow more people to escape.
"This fire is very unsafe, please evacuate if asked to do so!"
As they've already done multiple times this year, KRCR-TV in Redding has switched over to full live fire coverage. A California fire official says a fast-moving wildfire in Northern California has destroyed structures and injured civilians.
The entire town had been evacuated earlier, with traffic backing up throughout the area as residents try to get to safety. "People started getting out of their vehicles and running".
Travel was limited on U.S. Highway 101 in Ventura County, state highway patrol troopers said. "There's nothing much left standing", said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesperson Scott Maclean.
The Camp Fire, which started early on Thursday near Camp Creek, has been fuelled by strong winds and dry forest.
"The whole hill's on fire", she said while crying.
Others described watching flames consume their property as they evacuated.
One woman, Kim Curtis, said she was searching for her grandmother, a woman in her 70s who had said she was fleeing with her cat but had failed to turn up at an arranged meeting point and was not contactable.
'Every engine that we could put on the fire is on the fire right now, and more are coming, ' he said. "There are dozens of strike teams that we're bringing in from all parts of the state". "We're still being very careful".
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.
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.