California is currently being devastated by three separate wildfire blazing through the state, due to high winds and low humidity. In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fires both began on Thursday afternoon, the latter just down the road from Thousand Oaks, which was still reeling from Wednesday night’s mass shooting. The combined fires have already burned tens of thousands of acres, spreading across the 101 Freeway and causing the city of Malibu to undergo mandatory evacuation.
Meanwhile, in Northern California, the even more destructive Camp Fire broke out north of Sacramento on Thursday, which is burning at a rate of about 80 football fields per minute and has forced the evacuation of 40,000 residents. Many are from the town of Paradise that has a population of 26,000 people and is believed to be completely decimated by the flames.
The fire spread so quickly that residents were taken completely by surprise, leading to harrowing evacuation conditions such gridlocked traffic and fire-blocked streets. One evacuee, Paradise resident Whitney Vaughan, went to work as usual on Thursday morning only to learn that the town was under immediate evacuation orders.
Rushing home, she and her husband attempted to flee but soon found themselves trapped with other evacuees, which she caught in harrowing video.
This is footage at the corner of Pearson and Edgewood Lane at 10:05am. Traffic was at a standstill,” Vaughn posted to Facebook. “People were abandoning their cars and running with their babies and kids. This was right before someone rammed our vehicle with theirs trying to get through.”
“There were no firefighters in sight, I am hoping all of these people made it out,” she added.
After eventually making it out safely, Vaughn told CNN that the flames were whipping and spreading so fast that there just wasn’t anywhere to go. “We barely stayed ahead of it and multiple times, as we followed the flow of cars, we thought the fire was going to kill us,” she continued. “It was everywhere. After three and a half hours we finally made it through the gridlock.”
Another Paradise resident, Brynn Parrott Chatfield took video as she and her husband drove to safety. “I feel very vulnerable posting this but I feel I should,” she likewise wrote on Facebook. “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.”
President Donald Trump is currently headed to Paris to take part in Armistice Day services on the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I, and made no mention of the wildfires either while speaking to reporters before departing on Air Force One, or on Twitter.
Earlier this morning, however, he tweeted about the Florida midterm election results and Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation.