"There's nothing much left standing", said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesman Scott Maclean. The Chico Elks Lodge is opening up as a shelter as well around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night.
The fire is expected to move north and critical fire conditions are expected Saturday.
The fast moving 150ft flames sparked a mass evacuation of the towns 26,000 population. Residents awoke to the stench of smoke and the morning horizon drenched in an ashen-orange that was hard to see or drive through, hindering evacuations.
The blaze that started Thursday morning east of Paradise and decimated the town also spread to the west.
On social media, many have been sharing images of highways and roads flanked by fire or covered in heavy smoke and asking for help to evacuate friends and family. "I don't know. When I left it was all on fire".
"I was frantic", she said.
"Due to the burn injuries, identification could not be immediately made" on the bodies, the sheriff's office said.
Allana Hall captures this photo as she evacuates her home in Paradise, California. The she reconsidered, thinking: "I'm really scared, this is terrifying, I can't breathe, I can't see and maybe I should humble myself and get in this woman's auto". "Please keep Paradise and all the first responders in your prayers". The blaze is located just 87 miles northeast of Sacramento.
Flames climb trees im Paradise.
Nicole Kowalczyke, of Chico, said she saw a "very ominous" outside her house.
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"It's probably gone already".
The fire forced the evacuation of patients from Paradise's main hospital to hospitals in Oroville and Chico.
The department was trying to find them temporary housing, Sheriff Kory Honea said.
The Concow School sent its 60 students home, but many faculty members are anxious about their homes, said Golden Feather Union Elementary School District Superintendent Josh Peete. Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter said he was on a bulldozer that pushed cars out of the way Thursday to get to the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital in the town of Paradise.
"We grabbed our animals and some food and some clothes and we're getting the heck out of here", one man said. Right now, 500 firefighters are working to put out the conflagration, with support from 100 other law enforcement officials. Capt. John Gaddie said. "We're doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas". The Hill Fire is over 10,000 acres and the Woolsey Fire is 2,000 acres.
"We sequestered the populous in certain areas that did not escape earlier, so they would be safe and would have fire resources around them", McLean said.
McLean said the fire fight was hampered by winds of up to 40 miles per hour, which spread embers far ahead of the main fire after it started around 6:30 a.m. Thursday. Wind gusts of almost 50 miles per hour helped speed its growth.
Winds are expected to die down Friday morning and firefighters said that should help for now, but they are expected to pick back up again on Sunday.
These shelters are now available in Church of the Nazarene, 2238 Monte Vista Ave, Oroville, CA 95966 Butte County Fairgrounds, 199 E Hazel St, Gridley.