More than 20,000 people were ordered to evacuate as a wildfire raged out of control and grew to more than 18,000 acres in California.
(Pictured) Smoke from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., darkens the sky as seen from Highway 99 near Marysville, on Nov. 8.
Smoke from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., darkens the sky on Nov. 8.
Plumes of smoke loom in the sky several miles away, seen behind a home in Thousand Oaks, Calif., as a wind-driven wildfire known as the Hill fire threatens the area on Nov. 4. This is a few miles from the scene of Nov. 7 mass shooting at the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks.
Interstate 5, which has been closed due to the Delta Fire, is seen completely empty in Lamoine, California, in the Shasta Trinity National Forest, on Sept. 6.
Firefighters douse backfire flames in the Pollard Flat area of California in the Shasta Trinity National Forest on Sept. 6.
Flames from a backfire burn around a fire truck battling the Delta Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest on Sept. 6.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones holds up a report during a news conference about the costs of recent wildfires on Sept. 6, in San Francisco. Jones released the first data on the total insurance claims reported for residential and commercial losses following the Carr and Mendocino Complex wildfires. Commissioner Jones also released updated data for the 2017 California wildfires and 2018 mudslides. The number at left is the grand total of insured losses from the 2017 wildfires and Montecito mudslide.
A scorched VW Beetle rests in a clearing after the Delta Fire burned through the Lamoine community in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, on Sept. 6.
The Delta Fire burns in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, on Sept. 6.
Embers fly above a firefighter as he works to control a backfire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, on Sept. 6. The blaze had tripled in size overnight.
A firefighter passes flames from a backfire while battling the Delta Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, on Sept. 6.
An outbuilding burns as firefighters struggle to contain backfire in the Pollard Flat area of the Shasta Trinity National Forest, on Sept. 6.
California Capt. Mark Loveless examines a truck scorched by the Delta Fire burning along Interstate 5 in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest on Sept. 6. The highway remains closed to traffic in both directions as crews battle the blaze.
A home leveled by the Delta Fire rests in a clearing in Pollard Flat area of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest on Sept. 6, in California.
A burned-out truck sits along Interstate 5 during the Delta Fire near Delta, Calif., in the Shasta Trinity National Forest on Sept. 6.
Smoke rises as the large Delta Fire spreads along Shasta County on Sept. 5, in California.
Smoke rises as the large Delta Fire spreads along Shasta County on Sept. 5, in California.
Light from a train is seen as it rounds a bend near the Sacramento River as flames from the Delta Fire fill a valley in Delta, California on Sept. 6.
A firefighter sprays the smoldering remains of a vehicle on Interstate 5 as the Delta Fire burns in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Calif., on Sept. 5. Parked trucks lined more than two miles of the highway as both directions remained closed to traffic.
A scorched logging truck rests on Interstate 5 as the Delta Fire burns in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Calif., near Shasta Lake on Sept. 5.
Fire trucks pass the Delta Fire on Sept. 5.
A firefighter douses what’s left of a burned vehicle abandoned on Interstate 5 after the Delta Fire tore through the region and jumped the road.
Fire trucks drive away from a burning hillside in Delta, California on Sept. 5.
Freddie Cox plants a flag at the charred remnants of his godfather, Ed Bledsoe’s home, on Aug. 12, in Redding, Calif. Bledsoe’s wife, Melody, great-grandson James Roberts and great-granddaughter Emily Roberts were killed at the home in the Carr Fire.
Park Ranger Anne Simmons passes maps out and directs visitors at the Hwy 140 gate as Yosemite National Park reopens on Aug. 14.
A man who usually advertises a computer repair store holds up a sign thanking firefighters working on the Carr Fire on Aug. 13, in Redding, Calif.
Ed Bledsoe tries to hold back tears as he searches through what remains of his home on Aug. 13, in Redding, Calif.
A helicopter approaches a plume of smoke from fires still burning at a Cleveland National Forest hillside near the senior retirement community of Trilogy at Glen Ivy in Corona, on Aug. 13 as containment for the Holy Fire rises to 52 percent.
Jesus Alonzo-Manzo wears bags to keep his shoes clean while taking pictures of his cousin on a hillside burned in the Carr Fire on Aug. 12.
A man cleans a backyard swimming pool colored with red fire retardant dropped by a firefighting jet as residents who were forced to flee the Holy Fire return to their homes in Lake Elsinore, California on August 12.
A man cleans up red fire retardant dropped by a firefighting jet as some residents who were forced to flee the Holy Fire return to their homes in Lake Elsinore, California on August 12. The fire had burned 21,473 acres and was 29 percent contained as of 8:30 a.m. Saturday, according to the Cleveland National Forest.
Gary Parmely, father of Jeremy Stoke of the Redding Fire Department, visits a memorial for his son, Saturday, Aug. 11, in Redding, Calif. Stoke was killed in the Carr Fire.
Diana Hartman comforts Willie Hartman, right, as family members build a shelter for shade beside the charred remains of Willie Hartman’s house burned in the Carr Fire, on Aug. 11, in Redding, Calif.
A general view of the aftermath from the Holy Fire, in McVicker Canyon, California, U.S., August 11.
Rick Kincaid reacts as his wife Melodie Kincaid, left, finds his childhood toy as they sift through the charred remains of their home burned in the Carr Fire on Aug. 11 in Redding.
Alyson Kohl wipes her face as she combs through the charred remains of her home burned in the Carr Fire on Aug. 11 in Redding.
Construction workers, from left, Mario Camacho, Armando Guzman and Jose Caranco work on a house in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa on Aug. 10. The Trump administration’s tariffs have raised the cost of imported lumber, drywall, nails and other key construction materials, squeezing homeowners who seek to rebuild quickly after losing their houses to natural disasters, such as the wildfires that destroyed Coffey Park.
Volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse sift through the charred remains of a home burned in the Carr Fire on Aug. 10 in Redding.
A truck and a street are covered in fire retardant dropped by an air tanker as crews battle a wildfire on Aug. 10 in Lake Elsinore.
A flag flies at half staff amid the rubble of homes burned in the Carr Fire on Aug. 10 in Redding.
A burned out neighborhood is seen from an aerial photo after a wildfire swept through Shasta County west of Redding on Aug. 10.
Diane Nuccio places a flag in her car while packing it up at a shelter for people fleeing the Carr Fire on Aug. 10 in Redding. The only items Nuccio has left fit in her car after her home burned in the fire.
Burned down remains of homes are seen from an areal photo in the Keswick neighborhood of Redding on Aug. 10. Fire crews have made progress against the biggest blaze in California history but officials say the fire won’t be fully contained until September.
A swimming pool is all that remains of a hilltop home after being burned by a wildfire that swept through Shasta County an area west of Redding on Aug. 10.
Firefighters conduct a burn operation to remove fuel around homes on Grand Ave as the Holy Fire grows to more than 10,000 acres as the wildfire comes closer to Lake Elsinore on Aug. 10.
Manuel Trujillo packs his belongings as flames of Holy Fire nears his home in Lake Elsinore, California on Aug 9.
The Holy Fire burns in the Cleveland National Forest at a hillside near homes in Lake Elsinore, California on Aug. 9.
Flames of Holy Fire come very close to homes in Lake Elsinore, California on Aug 9.
Ziggy Torok (L) and Starla Affatati watch with concern as flames close in on Torok’s home in the Rice Canyon neighborhood as the Holy Fire burns in Lake Elsinore, California, on Aug 9.
A car drives in a residential neighborhood after fire tore down a hillside during the Holy Fire in Lake Elsinore, California, on Aug 9.
A firefighter battles the Holy Fire burning in the Cleveland National Forest along a hillside at Temescal Valley in Corona, California on Aug. 9.
Starla Davis cries as she packs a suitcase in her makeshift tent at an evacuation center on Aug. 9 in Redding, California.
A plane drops water on the Holy Fire as it burns in the Cleveland National Forest in Lake Elsinore, California on Aug. 9.
This is an enhanced Sentinal-2 thermal satellite image of the Carr Fire near Redding California on Aug 9.
Bree Seville uses a small brush to sweep the stairs leading to burned-out ruins of her fiancee’s mother’s home in the Keswick area of Redding, Calif., on Aug. 9.
Francois Cazalot works as a firefighter battling California wildfires on Aug. 9, in Mendocino County, Calif.
Smoke from the Mendocino Complex fire hangs over a valley on Aug. 8, near Lodoga, Calif.
A plane drops fire retardant behind homes along McVicker Canyon Park Road, on Aug. 8, in Lake Elsinore as the Holy fire burned near homes.
Residents load a truck during evacuation along Crystal Ridge Court, on Aug. 8, in Lake Elsinore.
Volunteers Rita Laufler, right, and Judy Ellis celebrate at a makeshift shelter for Mendocino Complex Fire evacuees upon hearing that mandatory evacuations had been lifted for a portion of the area on Aug. 8 in Clearlake.
Martin Lovrin, a Ranch fire evacuee, rests at a makeshift shelter on Aug. 8 in Clearlake.
This is an enhanced Landsat-8 thermal satellite image of the Holy Fire on Aug. 8 , in Orange County, east of Long Beach.
The Holy fire burns in the Cleveland National Forest behind homes along Crystal Ridge Court on Aug. 8 in Lake Elsinore.
People watch as the Holy Fire burns in Cleveland National Forest on Aug. 8 in Lake Elsinore.
Cars drive down a hill in a mandatory evacuation area as the Holy Fire burns in Cleveland National Forest on Aug. 8 in Lake Elsinore.
Firefighters battle the Medocino Complex fire on August 7, near Lodoga, California. The Mendocino Complex Fire, which is made up of the River Fire and Ranch Fire, has surpassed the Thomas Fire to become the largest wildfire in California state history with over 280,000 acres charred and at least 75 homes destroyed.
Firefighter Brandon Esquer makes his way down a hillside while battling the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, on Tuesday, Aug. 7, near Ladoga, Calif.
Firefighters monitor a backfire while battling the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, in Aug. 7, near Ladoga, Calif.
Resident Arnold Lasker looks over the burned out remains of his girlfriend’s house which was hit during the Ranch Fire in Spring Valley near Clearlake Oaks, northern California, on August 7,.
A chimney remains standing at a house destroyed in the Ranch Fire in Spring Valley near Clearlake Oaks, California, on August 7.
Jay Michael (R) and Gretchen Fritsch (L) rest in their car during the Ranch Fire in the parking lot of the Moose Lodge in Clearlake Oaks, California on August 07. This is the eighth time they have been evacuated since living in the area and the third time this year.
A peacock walks by the burned out remains of a home that was destroyed by the Medocino Complex fire on August 7, near Clearlake Oaks, California.
Temescal Canyon resident Gregory Tucker, center, plays bocce ball with grandsons Mason, 5, and Griffin, 4, at Deleo Regional Sports Park as smoke plume form Holy fire blankets the sky near Corona, Calif. on August 7.
Firefighting helicopters collect water from Clear Lake as they battle the Medocino Complex fire on August 7, in Florence, California.
This Aug. 6, 2018 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows plumes of smoke from the “River Fire” burning vegetation west of Clear Lake, Calif. The dark brown areas at center, encircled by lighter-colored bulldozed trails, shows burned vegetation around the South Cow Mountain recreation area.
A man prepares to fish as smoke rises from the Holy Fire in Cleveland National Forest on August 6, in Lake Elsinore, California. The fast moving brush fire has burned at least 4,000 acres.
Two spectators watch as smoke from a wildfire burning near the Holy Jim area rises in the distance, Monday, Aug. 6, in Lake Forest, Calif. Authorities have evacuated cabins in two communities in the Santa Ana Mountains in Orange County because of a fast-moving wildfire.
Wildfires continue to burn actively in this high resolution satellite image from August 5.
A spotter plane banks in front of an air tanker as it drops fire retardant on a burning hillside during the Ranch Fire in Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Aug. 5.
A hillside smolders after flames passed through during the Ranch Fire on Aug. 5 in Clearlake Oaks, Calif.
A tree burns from the inside during the Ranch Fire on Aug. 5 in Clearlake Oaks, Calif..
A truck passes by flames during the Ranch Fire on Aug. 5 in Clearlake Oaks, Calif.
An air tanker drops retardant on the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, burning along High Valley Rd near Clearlake Oaks, California, on Aug. 5.
A helicopter drops water on a burning hillside during the Ranch Fire on Aug. 5 in Clearlake Oaks, Calif.
An aircrew from the 163d Attack Wing, California Air National Guard, fly an MQ-9 Reaper drone aircraft to scan the Mendocino Complex Fire in Northern California, U.S., August 4. U.S.
Firefighters ride in the back of a pickup truck while battling the Ranch Fire on New Long Valley Rd on Aug. 4, near Clearlake Oaks, Calif. The Ranch Fire is part of the Mendocino Complex, which is made up of two blazes, the River Fire and the Ranch Fire.
Flames lick behind a Buddha lawn statue as the Ranch Fire tears down New Long Valley Road on Aug. 4, near Clearlake Oaks, Calif.
A firefighter douses flames while battling the Ranch Fire on Aug. 4, near Clearlake Oaks, Calif.
Debbie Prior evacuates a horse on Aug. 4, near Clearlake Oaks, Calif.
Alex Schenck carries a water bucket while fighting to save his home on Aug. 4, near Clearlake Oaks, Calif.
A firefighter gathers water from a pool while battling the Ranch Fire on Aug. 4, near Clearlake Oaks, Calif.
A sign by the side of the road warns of the threat of wildfires which have been fueled by continued hot weather outside the town of Colfax, California on Aug. 4.
Australian fire specialists prepare to board a fight at Sydney International Airport in Sydney, New South Wales on Aug. 3. Approximately 100 specialists from across Australia will travel from Sydney Airport to the USA to assist firefighters battling wildfires in Northern California, Oregon and Washington State.
Flames estimated by firefighters to be 200-260 feet high, engulf a ridge as the River fire again threatens the town of Lakeport, California on Aug. 3. Thousands of firefighters were struggling to contain two vast wildfires in California, one of which has become one of the most destructive blazes in the state’s history.
Firefighters try to contain flames from spot fires caused by flying embers from the River fire as it threatens to again spread towards the town of Lakeport, California on Aug. 3.
Mercy Medical Center is shown in Redding, on Aug. 3. Dozens of staff members, including doctors, nurses and others at the medical center are keeping the hospital running despite losing their homes to the flames.
A herd of cows stand in the path of wind swept flames from the River fire as it again threatens the town of Lakeport, on Aug. 3.
Wind swept flames from the Ranch fire threaten the town of Nice near Upper Lake, on Aug. 3.
A helicopter makes a water drop on wind swept flames from the River fire as it enters the town of Lakeport, on Aug. 3.
Firefighters try to contain flames from spot fires caused by flying embers from the River fire towards Lakeport, on Aug. 3.
Traffic passes through heavy smoke from the River fire heading towards Lakeport at sunset, on Aug. 3.
A helicopter prepares to drop water on the wind swept flames from the River fire as it again threatens the town of Lakeport, on Aug. 3.
A thank you banner for fire fighters, first respondents and hospital workers stands outside Mercy Medical Center on Aug. 3 in Redding.
Slideshow by photo services
PARADISE, Butte County — More than 30,000 people fled for their lives Thursday as a late-season wildfire swept across this town in the Sierra foothills, incinerating numerous homes and businesses and prompting desperate rescues of residents trapped inside buildings and on clogged evacuation routes.
The blaze exploded to more than 18,000 acres in just the first eight hours, adding to a catastrophic two years of wildfires in California that have raised new questions about how the state will cope with a warmer and drier climate.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints burns during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
Businesses burn in downtown Paradise during Camp Fire in Butte County, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints burns during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
Vehicles burn during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
A PG&E worker runs while dealing with downed power lines during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
A charred wheelchair in Paradise Gardens senior community during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
A business burns during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
Smoke from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., darkens the sky Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Don Thompson)
The massive plume from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., wafts over the Sacramento Valley as seen from Chico, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Authorities in Northern California have ordered mandatory evacuations in a rural area where the wildfire has grown to 1,000 acres (405 hectares) amid hot and windy weather. (David Little/Chico Enterprise-Record via AP)
Smoke from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., darkens the sky above the Butte College sig in Oroville, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.
Twitter user jackieglazerr captured dark plumes of smoke from the Camp Fire filling the sky over Fair Street in Chico.
Nicole Kowalczyke of Chico stepped outside to look at smoke from the Camp Fire Thursday morning, and a singed piece of paper fell from the sky.
A helicopter flies towards the Camp Fire in Butte County, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
Smoke from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon near Paradise, Calif., darkens the sky Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.
After evacuating from her home in Paradise, Angie Waltmon wipes away a tear while watching Camp Fire from along Highway 191 in Butte County, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
View of the Camp Fire taken by a resident of nearby Chico. Nov. 8, 2018
A burnt out home during Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.. on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
Smoke turned the daytime sky black in the community of 27,000 that sits 15 miles east of Chico and 80 miles north of Sacramento. Authorities raced to evacuate a hospital, which caught fire, while calling in hundreds of firefighters from across the region to attack the flames from the ground and by air.
Among the structures lost to the flames were a McDonald’s, a Mormon church, a Black Bear Diner and the town’s wood welcome sign. Streams of residents hurried out of town, inching along the few available routes. As the day wore on, family members and friends searched for scores of missing people.
The cause of the fire, which ignited at 6:30 a.m., was under investigation. Authorities released no immediate information about the extent of the damage, injuries or potential fatalities.
Evacuation efforts were “difficult, to say the least,” said Lt. Al Smith of the Butte County Sheriff’s Office, noting that several deputies who ventured into evacuation zones to rescue residents also became trapped by flames burning around them. “I can’t think of an area that’s safe right now.”
The blaze, named the Camp Fire because of its proximity to Camp Creek Road near Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon, was scorching several areas within Paradise, which is home to many retirees. By Thursday afternoon, it was moving west toward Chico. Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom, filling in while Gov. Jerry Brown traveled out of state, declared a state of emergency in Butte County. Firefighters spent the morning trying to evacuate trapped Paradise residents while creating firebreaks within the town and even moving some people to empty parking lots.
“In the past few years, just the way fires have moved, firefighters have had to help with evacuations before they can go back in to put out the fire,” said Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. Jennifer Broussard, 41, woke to thunder — or at least that’s the fire sounded like, she said.
She and her husband Ryan, 50, left their home in a rush. Both in their pajamas, there was no time to change into anything else. Police were everywhere shouting, “Move! Go! Get out!”
Driving away, Broussard recalled that she probably would have gotten a ticket for speeding any other time.
She moved from Los Angeles to Paradise 20 years ago, and she was surprised upon arriving in town how clear the stars were at night. But in the daytime Thursday, she couldn’t see anything except black smoke obscuring the sun and sky.
“The simple things we take for granted,” Broussard said at an evacuation shelter in Oroville. She tapped ash from her cigarette on the concrete and said, “That is a whole town gone.”
As of 4 p.m., the Camp Fire had no containment.
High winds were hampering air tankers’ efforts to extinguish the flames, said Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean. The main air attack was coming from helicopters dropping water on the fire, but planes struggled to help as erratic winds and a thick layer of smoke obscured the ground.
Kendra Luck evacuated with her father and stepmother a few hours after the fire started. Her stepmother spotted flames shooting up a hillside just outside of town around 8 a.m., and the three of them started packing.
An hour later, the smoke was so dense that they were turning lights on in the house and the sky was an eerie — but familiar — red glow. Her father and stepmother have lived in the same house in Paradise for 16 years and this was their third fire evacuation.
“They’re getting used to this,” said Luck, a former Chronicle photographer. “Everything was glowing that fire red. That was enough for them, so we just packed up and left.
“I didn’t see flames on the drive, but you could see the red flow across the canyon on the hillside. And the smoke was more than just smoke — it had that glow going,” she said. “It was definitely raining ash all morning.”
The family drove out of town early enough to avoid the crush of traffic.
The Butte County towns of Paradise, Pulga and Concow were evacuated shortly after the fire started. Cal Fire officials said residents of Magalia, Butte Creek Canyon and Butte Valley had also been ordered to leave.
The Paradise Unified School District and Butte College closed their doors Thursday morning under evacuation orders from fire officials. Feather River Hospital in Paradise was also evacuated after the fire jumped a road leading to the hospital. The older section of the building was engulfed in flames, officials said.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. reported that 34,280 customers in Butte County and neighboring Plumas County had lost power.
Engines from the San Francisco Fire Department, Santa Rosa Fire Department and multiple other California agencies are aiding Butte County firefighters with the response.
A smoke advisory was issued for the entire Bay Area through Friday, air district officials said, and residents can expect to see or smell smoke from the blaze.
Megan Cassidy, Gwendolyn Wu, Kurtis Alexander and Erin Allday are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Twitter: @meganrcassidy @gwendolynawu @kurtisalexander @erinallday