PARADISE, Calif. – Thousands of structures destroyed and an entire town wiped out by flames– that is the report from Cal Fire captain.
There are also reports of fatalities, but there is no indication of how many people may have been killed or injured as a result of the fast-moving flames.
The town of Paradise is home to about 27,000 people– all of whom are under mandatory evacuation orders Thursday night.
Paradise is about is 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.
A police officer in the neighboring town of Chico said he returned to Paradise to find large stores, restaurants and homes leveled or burning.
Another police officer in Chico, John Barker, said many elderly people live in Paradise and some are immobile. People posted photos on Twitter of missing seniors.
Barker told the Associated Press he was briefly trapped by fire while trying to get people out, with flames across the road in front of him and behind him.
Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in the area. Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter was one of many officials who told of a chaotic and dangerous scene outside of the hospital, where patients were waiting to be evacuated when the roof caught fire.
Teeter said he was on a bulldozer pushing cars out of the way to get to the front of the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said some people in the hospital were trapped in a tunnel but a hospital spokeswoman said all of the patients were evacuated.