Only a day after it began, the blaze near the town of Paradise had grown to nearly 140 square miles (362 square kilometers), had destroyed more than 6,700 structures - almost all of them homes - and was burning completely out of control.
Authorities issued mandatory evacuation orders for more than 50,000 people in the scenic area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, including some residents of Chico, population 93,000, near Paradise.
'It's a very risky and very serious situation, ' Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told The Associated Press. Some buildings caught fire and were damaged but the main facility, Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, was not, spokeswoman Jill Kinney said. Burning at a rate of roughly 80 football fields per minute, county officials have declared a State of Emergency as CalFire reports some 70,000 acres have burned with just 5 percent of the fire contained.
A firefighter drags a hose as he battles the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 8, 2018.
Fire officials were working on a plan to rescue patients from a hospital after officials tried to evacuate them but had to turn back because of gridlocked traffic.
"It's devastating. It's like 'welcome to hell, '" resident Cynthia Ball, said about the dual disasters while she was outside the teen centre serving as a shelter for evacuees. We're doing everything we can to get people out of the affected areas'.
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"This event was the worst-case scenario".
"It was absolutely dark", said resident Mike Molloy, who said he made a decision based on the wind to leave Thursday morning, packing only the minimum and joining a sea of other vehicles.
"There are quite a few of them we've seen, trying to escape the flames and get out, get to safety, because their home, their habitat, is on fire", she said. Firefighters were able to stop the fire at the edge of the city, where evacuation orders remained in place Friday, Cal Fire Cpt.
"This is the new normal", Los Angeles County Fire Captain Erik Scott told a local television station.
Hear more from Bass and see footage of the devastation above. Her father, a lineman for Pacific Gas and Electric Company, was called in from another district to help shut down power, she said.
The fire broke out on Thursday north west of Los Angeles and roared south, jumping the United States 101 freeway early on Friday and sweeping into the Santa Monica Mountains.
"I just wonder how many people didn't make it, and how many older folks and people with children in their cars didn't make it", she said.
Strong blustery winds combined with dry conditions have helped the blaze spread, after weeks without rain and low humidity at the height of the wildfire season in north California.
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