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A fast-moving wildfire in Northern California has grown rapidly, scorching some 18,000 acres and forced thousands of residents to evacuate, according to officials. "We had to ride through flames to get here", he said from the side of a road west of Paradise.

Butte County supervisor Doug Teeter said authorities used a bulldozer to push abandoned cars out the way to reach Feather River Hospital and evacuate patients as flames engulfed its old wing and the roof of the emergency department.

"We hope the winds will die down around midnight", he said.

California is experiencing one of its worst fire years ever, with 621,743 acres (251,610 hectares) burned through Sunday in areas covered by Cal Fire, almost twice the amount during the same period of 2017 and almost triple the five-year average.

Butte College also closed Thursday morning, not because of the fire but so that fire personnel can use the campus as a staging area, the school said.

Evacuated hospital patients are being taken to hospitals throughout the region. We're working very hard to get people out. Cal Fire has put out a call for more firefighters.

As of Thursday afternoon, two firefighters and multiple civilians had been injured, while a significant number of structures were consumed, according to Butte County CalFire Chief Darren Read.

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Local media reports have shown images of traffic moving away from the plumes of smoke and orange glow of the wildfire.

Evacuation orders are in place for the town of Paradise, home to around 26,000 people, as well as Magalia, Concow, Butte Creek Canyon and Butte Valley areas. He "knocked on doors, yelled and screamed" to alert as many residents as possible, Bernacett said. "We tried to get all the nondigital things that we could - you know, stuff that couldn't be replaced".

"The whole hill's on fire", she said while crying. She and her husband grabbed their dog, jumped in their pickup truck and drove through flames before getting to safety, she said.

He said sheriff's deputies helped patients evacuate.

Gusty winds and low humidity were among the factors that led to the warning.

Five people were burned in Paradise, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP).

The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through Friday evening.


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