California wildfires force hundreds of thousands to evacuate, claim lives

California wildfires force hundreds of thousands to evacuate, claim lives

The Hill Fire, which was reported in the Hill Canyon area of Santa Rosa Valley at about 2 p.m. Thursday, quickly charred thousands of acres and jumped Highway 101, which was closed in the area overnight, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. Although an unknown number of structures have been destroyed, there were no reports of any injuries to firefighters or residents as of mid-morning Friday.

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Dettorre is concerned that as the fire crosses the freeway "it will make its historic and typical run all the way down Pacific Coast Highway".

The L.A. Times reported that a total of 75,000 homes in both Ventura and Los Angeles counties are now under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, including Westlake Village and parts of Calabasas, where numerous entertainers including Alyssa Milano and Kim Kardashian have lavish homes.

Near Oak Park, the town of Thousand Oaks - still reeling from a mass shooting on Wednesday night - has also been threatened by the encroaching blaze.

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Rapper Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian West are among those who have taken to social media to confirm that they are safe. On Instagram she urged people to "pray for Calabasas". She revealed she had an hour to pack and evacuate from her home in the Calabasas area. Los Angeles is prone to natural disasters as earthquakes are expected in the region, but with the drought this year and mighty fires, it's becoming even more unsafe to live in the area.

Also burning in Ventura County was the Hill Fire, which grew to 10,000 acres by Thursday night, officials said. The blaze sent residents fleeing, and now threatens the city of Chico, home to 90,000 people.

Firefighters are challenged by residents moving about evacuation areas and high traffic as they follow the fire front. There's nothing much left standing. One evacuation center was even forced to close down as the flames spread.

Accidents gridlocked routes out of Paradise and residents abandoned their cars and fled on foot carrying children and pets, Reuters quoted local officials as saying.

Both fires are zero percent contained as of 11am on Friday, and dozens of communities on the border of Ventura and Los Angeles counties have been ordered to evacuate as the flames approach. Almost 2,300 firefighters are battling the flames, but as of Friday morning, it was still zero percent contained. Officials have put most of Northern California under a Red Flag Warning, which means "extreme fire behaviour" can occur within 24 hours.

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