A wildfire ripped through the outskirts of the Northern California city of Chico early on Friday, forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes. The wildfire devastated the town of Paradise on Thursday before entering Chico, Reuters reported.
Fire officials issued evacuation notices for the residents of Chico, a city of 93,000 people. “Firefighters continue to actively engage the fire in order to protect life and property,” the Chico Fire Department said in a tweet. Unidentified fire officials told Reuters that the flames were travelling at a speed of 65 km per hour.
California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom had declared a state of emergency on Thursday afternoon, The New York Times reported. Newsom also sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for federal assistance to help Butte County and other areas across the state, which have been fighting the blaze.
In Paradise, a city of 26,000 people, a hospital was evacuated, and traffic jams forced some people to flee on foot. “It’s very devastating to the town,” Paradise police chief Eric Reinbold said. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesperson Scott McLean told Reuters that the town had been destroyed, and an unidentified number of civilians and firefighters injured. It is not yet known if anyone has died.
There have been several wildfires in Northern California over the past year. In July, one such blaze killed six people, including an old woman, her two great grandchildren and two firefighters.