Cal Fire

Thousands Evacuated As Fire Grows Quickly In Butte County

KCBS Radio Morning News
November 08, 2018 - 10:02 am

A fire that broke out Thursday morning has spread rapidly across Butte County.

By mid-affternoon, the Camp Fire had exploded in size to 18,000 acres and firefighters had not contained any of it yet.

A state of emergency was declared for Butte County by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is acting governor while Jerry Brown travels out of state. 

School buses were shuttling evacuees to safer locations, such as large parking lots. 

The sheriff's department there has issued several evacuation orders for residents of the city of Paradise as well as the nearby settlements of  Pulga and Concow. Smoke was easily visible in Chico, nearly 20 miles away.

"The fire is very dynamic. Strong winds are moving the fire quickly," Cal Fire tweeted.

Winds gusted above 50 MPH Thursday morning at Jarbo Gap, a few miles from where the fire broke out.

Smoke drifting south led the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to issue a smoke advisory for the entire Bay Area through Friday. 

"Most of the smoke is expected to remain aloft but the public will likely see and smell smoke from the quickly expanding Camp Fire," the management district said online. 

Officials have begun opening shelters, including the Butte County fairgrounds, for people forced to flee their homes.

The Camp Fire was first reported at 6:30 a.m. in the Feather River Canyon, according to Cal Fire. The cause of the fire is unknown. 

The fire has forced the evacuation of a hospital, retirement community and many other homes, while leading to the closure of a stretch of Highway 191, a spur route off of Highway 70.  Highway 70, known as the Feather River Canyon highway, is also closed at Pentz Road in the Paradise area due to the fire.

PG&E had warned customers in Butte and eight other counties that they might lose power as a precaution against wildfires this week.  The utility told KCBS Radio that it had not cut off service in Butte County before this fire erupted.