The Camp Fire forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes Thursday and is advancing at a pace of about 80 acres per minute, a climate scientist said.
Daniel Swain, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that’s equivalent to about 60 football fields every minute.
The fire was burning out of control Thursday, and weather conditions in California are unlikely to improve.
The National Weather Service said fire will be a major concern for California through Saturday morning, with critical and extremely critical areas throughout the state.
A wind advisory and reg flag warning are in place for Paradise until 7 a.m. Friday.
“The combination of ongoing drought, high winds and very low relative humidity will lead to dangerous conditions for fire weather in parts of California,” the National Weather Service said.
The winds that helped fuel the monster fire are expected to ease a bit after the warning has expired on Friday, but a second round of gusty winds could whip into the area Saturday night and Sunday, the weather service’s Sacramento office said.
“Right now there is potential of gusts in the 40- to 50-mile-an-hour range developing Saturday night and into Sunday,” Jim Mathews of the National Weather Service said of Butte County.
It is basically the same weather scenario for Shasta County.
There is no rain on the horizon as this dry pattern will sit over California into next week.
“We have this dry pattern, which is a strong ridge weakening storm systems as they arrive from the Pacific Northwest,” Mathews said. “So they really haven’t penetrated Northern California.”
An evacuation order was issued for areas of Paradise, a town of about 27,000 people, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office said. Fire officials said firefighters were working to access the area as the blaze continued to spread.
“This fire is very dangerous, please evacuate if asked to do so!” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said on Twitter. Dozens of resources were being called in from throughout the state.
The evacuation has been expanded up to Chico city limits. The new evacuation order includes the area from Highway 32 at Nople Avenue to Chico city limits and Skyway from lower Paradise up to Chico city limits. The city itself so far is not included in the warning.
There have been 38,079 wildfires in California since the start of the year compared to 39,227 during the same period last year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
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Camp Fire: ‘God help us!’ Tens of thousands flee ‘very dangerous’ northern California wildfire
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