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Shocking Video Shows Family Driving Through a Devastating California Wildfire

A woman evacuating Paradise captured footage of her drive out of the neighborhood ravaged by the Camp fire.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Driving through Paradise
Screengrab via Brynn Chatfield / Facebook

Of the three wildfires currently tearing through California, the Camp blaze is the most brutal, ripping across NorCal’s Butte County at a rate of 80 football fields a minute. It’s almost completely devastated the town of Paradise, population 27,000, where more than 1,000 structures have already been destroyed, forcing residents to evacuate en masse, the Los Angeles Times reports. On Thursday, one local uploaded a video showing just how terrifying it is to flee the neighborhood while it's being engulfed in flames.


In the footage, Brynn Chatfield prays aloud as she and her family drive down a road lined by fire on both sides, fighting back tears while embers shoot out onto the roadway in front of them. At times, the smoke from the blaze leaves them with next to no visibility.

"I feel very vulnerable posting this but I feel I should," Chatfield wrote in a Facebook post. "My hometown of Paradise is on fire. My family is evacuated and safe. Not all my friends are safe. It's very surreal. Things always work out, but the unknown is a little scary."

In other parts of Paradise, traffic was at a standstill as heat from the fire bore down on people in their cars. "The window is so hot I can't even touch the window right now," one evacuee said in a video posted to Twitter. "We're in a really bad spot."

"People were abandoning their cars and running with their babies and kids," one local, Whitney Vaughan, wrote on Facebook. "This was right before someone rammed our vehicle with theirs trying to get through."

The rapidly growing Camp wildfire has torched 70,000 total acres and forced roughly 40,000 people to evacuate Butte County. At least five people have been killed in the blaze, and a handful of firefighters and residents have been injured, the Associated Press reports. The blaze is "0 percent contained" and still spreading. It's threatening parts of Chico, a city of 90,000 where authorities have already issued evacuation warnings for some areas.

Down in Southern California, the Woolsey fire has swallowed up more than 8,000 acres since it broke out Thursday, and it's only getting worse, leaving roughly 75,000 homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, the LA Times reports. And the nearby Hill blaze, outside Thousand Oaks—the same city where 12 people were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday—has already burned up about 10,000 acres, CNN reports. Meanwhile, the Santa Ana winds are only (literally) adding more fuel to the fire.

Update (11/9): The Associated Press reports at least five people have been killed in the Camp wildfire. This post has been updated to reflect that information.

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