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The Camp Fire Has Reportedly Burned an Entire Town to the Ground

Photo: AP

While dawn in California is still a few hours away, it will rise on a town completely changed. The 27,000-person community of Paradise was ravaged by the explosive Camp Fire last night. Early reports indicate the entire town was basically wiped out, and residents died or were severely burned trying to escape the inferno.

“Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it’s that kind of devastation,” CALFIRE Captain Scott McLean said, according to the AP. “The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out.”

McLean estimated the fire had destroyed thousands of structures, which would immediately vault the Camp Fire into the record books as one of California’s most destructive fires in history. The nine worst fires the state have seen all burned at least 1,000 buildings, with the top three topping 2,000.

Regardless of where it lands on the list, it’s clear that the Camp Fire has irrevocably changed the lives of thousands of people who stood—or still stand—in its path. The fire began in the Plumas National Forest, where it was first reported around 6:30 a.m. PT on Thursday. It grew explosively throughout the day as it marched westward. By 9:30 a.m., it had consumed at least 5,000 acres. Eleven hours later, that total was up to at least 20,000 acres, the flames urged on by powerful winds across a dry landscape.

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