Quantcast

‘We Were Engulfed in Flames’: Rapid Wildfire Devastates Entire Town of Paradise, CA

Climate
The Camp Fire burns a store in Paradise in Northern California. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

A wind-driven wildfire broke out in Northern California at 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning and took off at a rate of around 80 football fields per minute, covering 18,000 acres by 2 p.m., CNN reported.

The Camp Fire went on to engulf the town of Paradise, home to 27,000 people, forcing evacuations and damaging thousands of buildings, the Associated Press reported.


"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation," Cal Fire Captain Scott McLean told the Associated Press late Thursday. "The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out."

Fire department workers told The San Francisco Chronicle that there were reports of deaths, and at least two firefighters were injured. Acting California Governor Gavin Newsom, filling in for Governor Jerry Brown while he is out of state, declared a state of emergency in Butte County, where the fire erupted.

"We were engulfed in flames," Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter told The San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't know what we are coming back to after this. Probably a moonscape. As we drove out, homes were burnt to the ground."

The fire was fueled by "red flag" conditions combining high wind and low humidity, which are expected to persist in the area till Friday evening, the Associated Press reported. But longer-term climate change is also to blame, as drought makes ground-level vegetation more likely to catch fire.

"Basically, we haven't had rain since last May or before that," Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read told the Associated Press. "Everything is a very receptive fuel bed. It's a rapid rate of spread."

The Camp Fire engulfs the Paradise Inn hotel in Paradise in Northern California. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

Large, destructive wildfires have become increasingly common in California, and are expected to become 50 percent more likely by 2100 if nothing is done to limit greenhouse gas emissions, California's most recent Climate Change Assessment found.

The San Francisco Chronicle summed up the context surrounding the Camp Fire:

The intensity of the Camp Fire's surge through Paradise drew immediate comparisons to the Tubbs Fire, which wiped out whole neighborhoods in and around Santa Rosa, and the Carr Fire, which blitzed Redding this year. Gov. Brown and others have raised alarm about the nearly year-round danger in the state, but no broad solutions have surfaced. Twice in the past two years, fires have set the state record for size.

In a testament to the tragic normalcy of these events, several fires also broke out in Southern California. Among them were the Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire, which both ignited in Ventura County Thursday afternoon and could be further fueled by the Santa Ana winds, AccuWeather reported.

As of Friday morning, the Hill Fire had burned 10,000 acres and closed highway 101 in both directions west of Thousand Oaks, California, a town already reeling from a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill Wednesday, as the Ventura County Star reported.

The Woolsey Fire, meanwhile, burned multiple buildings and prompted an evacuation order for Oak Park, a town of around 14,000, as well as parts of Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Aerial assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.

Read More Show Less
Giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, California. lucky-photographer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This aerial view shows the Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for 2019 Rugby World Cup. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.

Read More Show Less
Vera_Petrunina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wudan Yan

In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."

Read More Show Less
Volunteer caucasian woman giving grain to starving African children. Bartosz Hadyniak / E+ / Getty Images

By Frances Moore Lappé

Food will be scarce, expensive and less nutritious," CNN warns us in its coverage of the UN's new "Climate Change and Land" report. The New York Times announces that "Climate Change Threatens the World's Food Supply."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
British Airways 757. Jon Osborne / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Adam Vaughan

Two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change, polling has found.

Read More Show Less
Climate Week NYC

On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.

Read More Show Less

By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans

Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.

Read More Show Less