The Camp fire swept through Paradise, California, on Thursday, with officials saying at least 1,000 structures were destroyed.
Scott McLean, a spokesman for Cal Fire, said the fire in Northern California’s Butte County has “destroyed the town.” Paradise is popular with retirees, and has a population of about 27,000. The fire was first reported around 6:30 a.m., and over just a few hours, the fire grew from 10 acres to more than 10,000. McLean said that by the middle of the day, there was so much smoke in the air, it looked like it was nighttime.
Residents trying to escape clogged the roads, and some people jumped out of their cars when they saw homes and buildings on fire. Resident Kim Benn told the Los Angeles Times she didn’t realize how close the fire was until she heard thumps on the roof, and saw that pieces of burning wood were hitting her house. She grabbed her cats and fled, and said once she got on the road and saw flames on both sides, she was convinced she was going to die and called her mother to say goodbye. Catherine Garcia